With valuable experience from the anti-SARS period, Taiwan is at the forefront of the Coronavirus campaign this time, though only 130 km from the Chinese epidemic center.
Shawn Bryant knew that he would be separated for two weeks when he arrived in Taiwan from Daejeon, South Korea. Local police call Bryant every day and he tells them that he will move into a new Airbnb apartment in the next few days. The police agree, as long as you take a taxi.
So Bryant was horrified when he received a message warning him that he went too far from his accommodation when he got in a taxi and will be fined for not returning immediately. He quickly contacted the police, who reassured Bryant that he could ignore the automated message.
“I’m glad they are serious about this and don’t let people get out of control easily,” said Bryant, who is visiting Taiwan on his way back to Canada.
Using phone tracking software for mandatory isolation monitoring is an example of how Taiwan is managing to prevent the spread of corona virus, with only 50 confirmed cases. So far, including one death, despite the island being just 130 km from mainland China, where the new pneumonia epidemic affected 80,000 people and left 3,000 dead.
Lessons from the campaign against SARS
While the UK, US, Italy and other countries outside China are struggling to cope with the rising number of infections, many are beginning to notice Taiwan’s successes. Experts and officials say effective control measures in Taiwan are the result of a combination of technology, headquarters, the universal health care system and timely decisions. .
For example, Taiwan has quickly implemented border controls and was one of the first places to ban the export of medical masks. Different from 2003, when Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) swept from southern China and killed dozens of people here, the Taiwanese government had access to more advanced technologies in Times this plague.
Taiwan was also alert early on for its experience in fighting SARS, while mainland China has been criticized for delaying reporting to the World Health Organization (WHO) when SARS struck.
“We have learned very expensive lessons and that experience is something that other countries do not have,” said Chan Chang-chuan, head of the Taiwan University Medical Department.
Taiwan is not a member of WHO, and since 2017, Taiwan has not been able to attend the annual World Health Conference annual policy meeting. During this outbreak, Taiwan was also absent from the WHO emergency meetings on coronavirus.
Taiwanese experts were allowed to participate in an online WHO forum on Covid-19 on February 12. The Taiwanese side said that this was the result of direct negotiation efforts with WHO.
The problem is becoming more and more serious in the context of a virus outbreak, and Taiwan sees this as a major disadvantage to the global health situation. Other leaders, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have called on WHO to allow Taiwan to attend the meetings.
“For us, it is very important to receive timely information, and Taiwan needs to let WHO know that we cannot share our successful experiences without being able to participate,” said Kolas Yotaka, a spokesman. Taiwanese government official said.
“We need to work together to end this nightmare.”
In Taiwan, most residents are still living as usual, with offices and schools open as before the epidemic. Many restaurants, gyms and cafes in Taipei are still bustling, although most carry out a body temperature test and hand sanitizer before letting customers in.
The government bought all home-made masks and limited each buyer to a maximum of 3 masks a week, causing long queues outside pharmacies. Authorities are expected to allow online purchases this week.
“Now everyone is really united and believes in government policies. At first the government seemed a bit heavy-handed, but now I believe it’s a wise decision, ”said Andy Chen, general manager of Comfort Champ, a mask company requested by the Taiwanese government to increase production for know.
There is much more to be done
Despite the current situation which appears to have stabilized, Taiwan officials are still on high alert. Taiwan Health Agency leader Chen Shih-chung said that infection in the community was inevitable for a long time and Taiwan needed to be prepared.
Mr. Chan, from Taiwan University, agrees that much work remains to be done, including increasing the effectiveness and popularity of the Covid-19 tests. South Korea, a country of 51.8 million people, conducts 15,000 virus tests every day and has quarantine centers on the road. Taiwan, with a population of nearly 24 million, currently conducts only about 800 tests a day and not everyone is quarantined.
As the United States and other countries increase testing, the number of cases will also increase, Mr. Chan added.
For Bryant, who is temporarily staying in Taiwan on his way back to his home town of Canada, he is happy to go through isolation. Bryant accepts the authorities following his movements, but he worries a little that he is under control.
Taiwanese officials reassured that this was legal and committed to monitoring only his personal activities during mandatory isolation.
“We do not use any advanced surveillance technology. This is simply tracking based on the location of their phone sim card and the surrounding mobile stations, ”said Kolas, a Taiwanese government spokesman.
“We want to protect him as well as others in Taiwan,” she said. “This is a measure we must take to prevent further infections and deaths.”