The threat of emerging infectious diseases to global health and the economy, trade, and tourism has never 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 the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012, Ebola in West Africa in 2014, and the Zika virus in Central and South America in 2015-16, have also reared their heads.
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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 8, 2020, World Health Organisation (WHO) data shows that 1.35 million people had been confirmed as having the disease, with 79,235 deaths in 211 countries/areas/territories. Taiwan too 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 to 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. [FULL STORY]