Taipei’s response to the corona virus pandemic is the most effective in the world. The last reported case of local outbreaks on the island of 23 million people was on April 12, which was Easter Sunday. As of Thursday, 553 cases had been confirmed – only 55 of which were broadcast locally. Seven deaths have been reported.
Taiwan will never have to implement strict lockdowns. There are no strict restrictions on civil liberties as in the mainland of China.
The first report of the novel Corona virus was confirmed by Taiwan on January 21, after which Wuhan residents were banned from going to the island. All travelers from China, Hong Kong and Macau are required to undergo screening.
All of this happened just before Wuhan locked down on January 23rd. By March, Taiwan had banned all foreign nationals from entering the island, including diplomats, residents and special entry visa holders.
But Taiwan has advantages not found in the West.
One is geography – Taiwan is an island, so it is easy for officials to control entry and exit across borders.
Taiwan also has experience on its part. In an interview last month, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said that Taiwan had worked to increase its resilience to the pandemic following the outbreak of Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003.
“So, when we heard that some secret pneumonia cases were being treated in isolation in China, we knew it was something similar,” he said.
The island’s Central Epidemic Command Center was activated by the authorities, which was started in the context of SARS to coordinate between different ministries. The government has increased the production of face masks and protective equipment to ensure a steady supply of PPEs.
Chen Chien-jen, a former Taiwanese vice president who is an epidemiologist by training, said lockdowns are not ideal. Chen also said that China’s major land surveying programs, which millions of people inspect when a handful of cases are discovered, are unnecessary.
“Very careful contact tracing and strict quarantines of very close relationships are the best way to incorporate Kovid-19,” he said.
CNN’s Paul Hancox, James Griffiths and Meenkatenha contributed to this report.