- A person in Taiwan could be sentenced to as much as seven years in jail for attempting to profit by raising prices for disease prevention products like hand sanitizer.
- The ability of Taiwan to produce so many masks was given the name, Taiwan's Mask Miracle.
- Taiwan's experience with the SARS pandemic of 2002 helped the country be better prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 has swept the globe, which is why we now call it a pandemic. Some countries have been able to deal with the virus better than others. One of the countries that has managed to significantly limit the spread of the disease is Taiwan. The island off the coast of China, which has a population of almost 24,000,000 people, had as many as 441 cases of COVID-19, including seven deaths. Now, however, there are no reported cases of the disease in the country. In fact, Taiwan has not reported a case of the coronavirus in over a month. Here are 10 ways Taiwan beat COVID-19:
10. The Early Bird Beats COVID-19
As soon as news of the rising numbers of infections in China came, Taiwanese authorities issued a travel ban for anyone coming from mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau. The Taiwanese government also anticipated the need for medical supplies, especially personal protective equipment. Hence, they started rationing the masks that they already had. The government also invested $6.8 million in the country’s manufacturing sector and created sixty new mask production lines.
9. Centralized Organization
Learning from the 2002 SARS epidemic, Taiwan set up a national health command centre, featuring a central epidemic command centre (CECC). They also centralized data, merging health and travel databases. In addition, Taiwan is a unitary state, which means that there are no sub-national levels of government. There are no states, like in the U.S., and no provinces, like in Canada, and therefore, there are no multiple jurisdictions with different rules and practices.
8. Fighting Disinformation
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about COVID-19. All sorts of conspiracy theories, fake medical information, and other fake news making the rounds in the media. Taiwan in particular had to deal with a lot of misinformation on social media that originated in China. The Taiwan Fact Checker Center, a non-profit organization, was instrumental in informing social media users about disinformation campaigns.
7. Early Detection
Taiwan began testing for the virus in January and focused on people who were returning from virus-hit areas. In addition, they tracked down individuals that reported having a bad flu to see whether or not they were carrying the virus. This is how they found the first case of the disease in the country in a person with no travel history.
6. Strict Quarantining and Tracking
Taiwan made efficient use of technology to track people that were under quarantine, as well as anyone who was at high-risk of contracting COVID-19. They tracked quarantined individuals through their phones to make sure that they were not violating their quarantine orders. The government would even call people to figure out where they were. Anyone violating a quarantine order would have to pay a hefty fine. This happened to three visitors from Hong Kong, who were told to self-isolate, but ignored the orders. The government tracked them down and each of them was fined $3000.
5. Supportive Quarantining
Isolating oneself can be difficult. The Taiwanese government knew this, which is why it provided support to those in quarantine. For instance, each person under quarantine was given an allowance of $30 per day for the full two weeks that they had to self-isolate. The government also enlisted the help of volunteers to bring basic supplies to quarantined individuals.
4. Avoiding Medical Shortages
As previously mentioned, the Taiwanese government acted early to ensure that there was no shortage of personal protective equipment, such as masks. The government recruited some of the country’s soldiers to work on production lines that were producing masks. It also restricted the pricing for masks and hand sanitizer to prevent profiteering.
3. Preparing Hospitals
Taiwanese authorities made sure that the island’s hospitals could handle the weight of a pandemic. They had two thousand beds on standby for people with severe infections, who had to be isolated. They also reserved more than twenty thousand beds for people with less severe symptoms.
2. The Indispensable Healthcare Workers
Healthcare workers around the world are the unsung heroes of the battle against COVID-19. Taiwan is no exception. For example, pharmacists in the country were crucial to distributing masks and educational material on the virus, as well as advice on good hygiene practices.
1. No Big Lockdown
Unlike many other countries, Taiwan did not need to shut down most of its economy. Most of the country stayed open. In order to facilitate this, new hygiene and cleaning practices were introduced, including hand sanitizers outside of most public buildings and protective masks. At school, children were required to have their temperatures taken and reported to their schools each morning before showing up. They also wore masks all day, except at lunch, when they ate in the presence of protective barriers between each other to prevent infection.