Amidst the current epidemic, it appears that Taiwan has emerged as a beacon of hope for every other part of the world.
The country has successfully hit a 200-day milestone without a single locally-transmitted case of COVID-19…
A notion which surely draws the admiration of almost every other country.
Taiwan Has Gone Through 200 Days Without a Single Locally Transmitted COVID-19 Case
The last locally-transmitted case in Taiwan was reported on 12 April.
In total, Taiwan has experienced just 553 cases and 7 deaths since the pandemic commenced.
To put it into perspective, the pandemic has incited more than 44 million reported cases to date, with a spine-chilling 1.1 million deaths.
Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has since acknowledged the extraordinary achievement, but does not seem keen on getting complacent just yet.
It thanked the public for their efforts, and urged them to continue wearing masks and sanitising their hands regularly.
How Has Taiwan Done It?
Taking action early on may have been a vital factor.
Apparently, Taiwanese officials have been checking flight passengers from Wuhan, China, for fever and pneumonia symptoms as early as 31 December 2019.
Lest you’re unaware, Wuhan is where the pandemic first originated.
And by 20 Jan, the government had activated the Central Epidemic Command Center, in a bid to coordinate response between different sectors and branches.
It also made sure to convey the importance of wearing masks, and rationed supplies to curb panic-buying.
By 23 January, the government had suspended flights from Wuhan, and restricted Chinese nationals – who live in Wuhan – from entering.
All arrivals in the country are required to undergo a stringent 14-day quarantine period.
According to the report, the country’s response to the outbreak was led by numerous professionals with the necessary expertise, one of whom was Taiwan’s former vice president Chen Chien-jen – a trained epidemiologist.
In addition, the country practices world-class contact tracing measures, and imposes fines of up to NT$1 million (S$47,700) on those who break quarantine rules.
However, the country’s feat is not without its own question marks.
For starters, some have tested positive for the virus after leaving Taiwan.
Just yesterday (28 October 2020), three people were ascertained by authorities to have tested positive after leaving the island.
In addition, the country continues to receive new cases from abroad.
In the past two weeks alone, 20 imported cases have been reported.
So in a sense, the country is not free of the virus.
Nevertheless, the nation has been regarded as a success story in light of the epidemic, and it’s a well-deserved title in its own right.
“Taiwan is the only major economy that has so far been able to keep community transmission of Covid eliminated,” said Dr Peter Collignon, a professor at the Australian National University Medical School.
Taiwan “probably had the best result around the world”, he said, and it’s “even more impressive” considering how the population in Taiwan is around the same as Australia’s.
Though the number of community cases in Singapore has been undeniably low in past weeks, the country has not been entirely free of it.
Three community cases were reported in the past week, with four reported in the week before.
Meanwhile, Malaysia has been experiencing a spike in cases of late.
The sudden spike in cases can be linked to the recent 16th Sabah State Election, wherein many from Peninsular Malaysia campaigned in the state (Sabah is in East Malaysia, an area that can only be reached by air) and ended up taking the virus back with them.
Apparently, a UMNO supreme council member had not followed Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) when campaigning at a Sipitang Tamu, a Sabah traditional market during the period. And not long after, another UMNO member, the party’s information chief Shahril Hamdan, tested positive for the virus after entering the same area.
More politicians have also been ascertained to be Covid-19 positive, including Deputy Minister of Environment and Water, Datuk Dr Ahmad Masrizal Mohamad.
To date, the country has more than 25,000 cases, more than double the numerical figure just a month ago. In fact, on 24 October, Malaysia reported its record number of daily cases: 1,228 cases.
Since 14 October, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor have also been under a partial lockdown.