Date: May 7, 2020
By: Yun-Ching Tseng, Yan-Tzong Cheng, Chun-Hsuan Sung
The whole world has been fighting against COVID-19 since the outbreak started in the beginning of 2020. Taiwan, only 130 kilometers from mainland China, not only has numerous visitors from China, but also has many people working and studying in China. Considering Taiwan’s strong trade and travel ties with China, even Johns Hopkins University initially predicted Taiwan would be one of the hardest-hit countries in the world. However, Taiwan’s aggressive measures have paid off and successfully kept COVID-19 at bay.
Taiwan’s core strategies
Taiwan was able to avoid a widespread outbreak of COVID-19 for several reasons. First of all, Taiwan used hard-learned lessons from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003 and alerted the government to monitor the pandemic since early January. Secondly, the government quickly implemented strategies in response to the pandemic, including the following three core components:
- Centralised management: The government established a Central Epidemic Command Center to coordinate the response: strengthening quarantine measures, requesting people to wear masks when they are outside, announcing travel and entry restrictions, tracing the contacts of infected people and monitoring passengers for fever or respiratory symptoms when they returned from abroad.
- Rapid policy implementation: To minimise the risk of the pandemic spreading, officials took swift measures to urge the public to reduce social contact and advised working from home. Furthermore, as new symptoms were recognised over time, the Central Epidemic Command Center rapidly adjusted policies, such as updating reporting guidelines and inspection definitions.
- Technology application and real-time databases: The Taiwan government has used technology to provide more effective approaches for immigration clearance and purchasing face masks, such as the Entry Quarantine System and the Name-Based Mask Distribution System.
The Entry Quarantine System allows passengers to fill their health declaration form online before arriving at their destination. Not only does this system speed up the process of immigration clearance, it also connects to the National Health Insurance Administration’s existing database to alert doctors of their patients’ travel history for better coordination with monitoring quarantines. [FULL STORY]