By: Ann Chen
Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been incredibly effective. How much of its success comes down to technology?
“Taiwan is a paradise bubble,” my dad told me in March, during my first few days back at my parents’ home. “This is probably one of the safest places in the world right now,” he said. Seeing the rush hour crush on the Taipei metro and children in school uniforms clustering at bus stops after school, all without exhibiting signs of fear or anxiety, I couldn’t agree more.
When the pandemic began, I had been in New York. Throughout February and early March, I checked in frequently with my parents in Taiwan. Things are fine here, they said. Meanwhile, the situation in New York was worsening. Cases were beginning to appear, but the government response was hesitant and nebulous. The virus is coming, warned the media. It may already be here.
If it’s already here, I wondered, why aren’t we doing anything about it? Why is everything continuing as normal? The situation felt out of control from the start. My parents urged me to come to Taiwan. On March 14th, 2020, I flew to Taipei on a direct flight.
My parents were right. From what I can tell, apart from masks on every face, life in Taiwan is uninterrupted by the pandemic. Schools, pharmacies, post offices, convenience stores, and parks are all open. Coffee shops, in abundance in Taipei, are full of people. Even the shopping malls are operating at regular capacity. Aside from a handful of attendants stationed at the front entrances, armed with temperature readers and hand sanitizer spray, every store remains open.