Taiwan’s minister of health makes the case for the country’s inclusion in the WHO.
Date: April 21, 2020
By: Chen Shih-chung
The threat of emerging infectious diseases to global health and the economy, trade, and tourism hasnever abated. Pandemics can spread rapidly around the world because of the ease of international transportation. Among the most salient examples are the Spanish flu of 1918, the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003, and the H1N1 influenza of 2009. Intermittently, serious regional epidemics, such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2012, Ebola in West Africa in 2014, and the Zika virus in Central and South America in 2016, have also reared their heads.
Today, a novel form of pneumonia that first emerged in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019 and has since been classified as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused a global pandemic. As of April 20, 2020, World Health Organization data showed that 2.24 million people had been confirmed as having the disease, with 152,551 deaths in 211 countries/areas/territories. Taiwan has not been spared.
In the 17 years since it was hit hard by the SARS outbreak, Taiwan has been in a state of constant readiness regarding the threat of emerging infectious disease. As a result, when information concerning a novel pneumonia outbreak was first confirmed on December 31, 2019, Taiwan began implementing onboard quarantine of direct flights from Wuhan that same day. On January 2, 2020, Taiwan established a response team for the disease and activated the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on January 20 as a level 3 government entity, upgrading it to level 2 and level 1 on January 23 and February 27, respectively. The CECC is able to effectively integrate resources from various ministries and invest itself fully in the containment of the epidemic. As of April 20, Taiwan had tested a total of 55,476 persons showing 422 confirmed cases of COVID-19, of which 55 were indigenous, 343 imported, and 24 are Navy members currently serving in the fleet. Taiwan has reported just six deaths; 203 people have been released from the hospital after testing negative. Despite its proximity to China, Taiwan ranked 123rd among 183 countries in terms of confirmed cases per million people. This has shown that Taiwan’s aggressive efforts to control the epidemic are working. [FULL STORY]