More than two months after a new corona virus outbreak appeared in Wuhan City, China, more than 100,000 people in various countries around the world were infected with this virus.
However, Taiwan, a country located close to the center of the spread of the COVID-19 corona virus is able to avoid the ferocious spread of this outbreak.
When the outbreak first spread in late December 2019, some experts predicted that Taiwan would have the highest number of cases outside mainland China.
As it turns out, when China had more than 80,000 COVID-19 cases, Taiwan was actually able to maintain the number of confirmed cases below 50. International health experts also appreciated the response and the quick countermeasures taken by Taiwan.
Jason Wang, a public health policy expert from Stanford University in the United States (US), said that Taiwan was aware of the potential for crisis early on, and was able to implement the foremost step in dealing with outbreaks.
“Taiwan established the National Health Command Center (NHCC) after the SARS epidemic in 2002 and 2003. That is preparation for the next crisis,” Wang said, adding that the NHCC integrated data and allowed experts to work together.
Taiwan’s quick response
The Taiwan government imposed travel bans on visitors from China, Hong Kong and Macau as soon as the number of corona virus cases began to increase in mainland China. In addition, the government implements a ban on surgical mask exports, ensuring adequate supplies of masks in the country.
Wang said that the adoption of a public health law gave the Taiwan government additional power to allocate resources.
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“The Taiwan government integrates data from national health insurance with immigration and customs data,” Wang said. “This allows medical personnel in the field to identify suspected patients after checking their travel history.”
The Taiwan government also developed a program that allows people to report travel history and disease symptoms by scanning a QR code when they arrive in Taiwan. They then receive a text message with their health status, which allows immigration officials to allow low-risk passengers to enter and focus on passengers with a high risk of COVID-19 infection.
“There is a lot that can be done by the Taiwanese government with new technology, and these practices enable them to handle and act on people with the right care,” Wang said.
The public cooperative attitude to obey government regulations has also helped Taiwan in dealing with the corona virus outbreak.
“Most Taiwanese have experienced difficulties during the SARS epidemic, so their memories are still fresh. This helps foster a sense of togetherness,” Dr. Chunhuei Chi, a professor of public health from the University of Oregon in the US.
Taiwan medical research
Chi said that Taiwan had invested in biomedical research for the past few decades and their research team had worked en masse to conduct rapid diagnostic tests for COVID-19.
Previously, Sunday (08/03), the Taiwan Academia Sinica research team developed antibodies that can identify proteins that cause corona virus. They are working to find a quick way to shorten the corona virus diagnosis time to 20 minutes.
The team’s main researcher, Dr. Yang An-Suei said the next step for the team was to validate the product before launching a rapid test kit in Taiwan.
And although China continues to prevent Taiwan from rejoining the World Health Organization (WHO), public health expert Wang said that Taiwan continues to share its experiences in fighting the corona virus outbreak with other countries.
“Taiwan has shared their epidemic prevention strategy with other countries through teleconference connections, while helping countries that do not have sophisticated medical capabilities to process samples from patients,” Wang said.