Date: April 5, 2020
By: James Griffiths, CNN
Australia and Taiwan have similar sized populations of about 24 million people, both are islands, allowing strict controls over who crosses their borders, and both have strong trade and transport links with mainland China. Ten weeks on from that date, however, Australia has almost 5,000 confirmed cases, while Taiwan has less than 400.
The question is not what Australia did wrong — 20 countries have more cases than Australia, and seven have more than 10 times as many — but how Taiwan has kept the virus under control when other parts of the world have not.
Hard learned lessons
During the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003, Taiwan was among the worst-hit territories, along with Hong Kong and southern China. More than 150,000 people were quarantined on the island — 180 kilometers (110 miles) off China's southeastern coast — and 181 people died.
While SARS now pales in comparison to the current crisis, it sent shockwaves through much of Asia and cast a long shadow over how people responded to future outbreaks. This helped many parts of the region react faster to the current coronavirus outbreak and take the danger more seriously than in other parts of the world, both at a governmental and societal level, with border controls and the wearing of face masks quickly becoming routine as early as January in many areas. [FULL STORY]