Taipei’s response to the Koran pandemic was one of the most effective in the world. The island of 23 million people last reported an affair that was broadcast locally on April 12, which was Easter Sunday. As of Thursday, it had confirmed 553 cases – only 55 of which were local broadcasts. Seven deaths were recorded.
Taiwan has never had to impose strict sanctions, nor has it resorted to drastic restrictions on civil liberties, such as in mainland China.
Taiwan confirmed the first reported case of the coronavirus on January 21 and subsequently banned Wuhan residents from traveling to the island. All passengers arriving from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao had to be screened.
All this happened before Wuhan himself was blocked on January 23rd. Until March, Taiwan banned all foreigners from entering the island, except diplomats, residents and those with special entry visas.
But Taiwan has advantages that its counterparts in the West do not have.
One is geography – Taiwan is an island, so it is easier for officials to control entry and exit through its borders.
Taiwan also had experience on its part. After suffering from the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, Taiwan has been working to increase its capacity to deal with a pandemic, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said in an interview last month.
“So when we heard that there were some secret cases of pneumonia in China where patients were treated individually, we knew it was something similar,” he said.
The authorities activated the Administration Center of the Central Epidemic of the island, which was established after SARS, for coordination between different ministries. The government has also increased the production of face masks and protective equipment to ensure that there is a steady supply of PPE.
Former Taiwanese Vice President Chen Qien-jen, who is an epidemiologist by training, said the locks are not ideal. Chen also said that the type of mass surveillance systems carried out in mainland China, where millions of people are screened when few cases are detected, is also unnecessary.
“Very careful contact detection and very strict quarantine from close contacts is the best way to limit Covid-19,” he said.
CNN’s Paula Hancocks, James Griffiths and Meenketan Jha contributed to this report.