Taiwan able to face COVID-19 with experience from SARS

Taiwan has been ready to face the threat of emerging infectious disease since the SARS virus 17 years ago, its minister of health and welfare said Friday.

“When information concerning a novel pneumonia outbreak was first confirmed on Dec. 31, 2019, Taiwan began implementing onboard quarantine of direct flights from China’s Wuhan immediately,” Shih-chung Chen told Anadolu Agency.

Chen said thanks to the collective efforts of 23.5 million Taiwanese, his country responded to threats posed by the pandemic through four principles: prudent action, rapid response, advanced deployment and openness and transparency.

He said Taiwan was fortunate to contain the virus and adopted strategies such as the implementation of meticulous border control measures, distribution of medical resources, implementation of home quarantine and isolation measures.

He also stressed that his country formed a response team and activated the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Jan. 2.

“Taiwan began to bar foreign nationals on March 19 from entering the country in accordance with measures announced by the CECC,” said Yaser Tai-Hsiang Cheng, Taiwanese economic and cultural representative.

“We believe that a 14-day quarantine on people entering the country is a far more effective method of epidemic prevention than mass testing. Our outstanding performance in containing the outbreak thus far has proved that our strategy is correct,” he said.

As of Nov. 11, Taiwan has had only 580 confirmed cases and seven deaths, Cheng said, and have not imposed a lockdown since the outbreak “thanks to the swift response and popular alertness to the pandemic from the very beginning.”

Noting there have been no locally transmitted COVID-19 cases for more than 200 days, a “huge triumph for Taiwan,” Cheng urged citizens to keep implementing anti-pandemic measures.

Cheng went on to say that Taiwan has long been excluded from the WHO because of political considerations.

“It is regrettable that Taiwan has been excluded again from participating in the Nov. 9-14 World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting due to political interference,” he said, adding that the country will not be deterred by political obstacles.

“The pandemic has proven that Taiwan is an integral part of the global public health network and the Taiwan Model can help other countries combat the pandemic,” said Chen.

Taiwan will continue to work closely with our partners to seek meaningful participation in the WHO system, he said.

Chen said Taiwan donated 51 million surgical masks and 600,000 isolation gowns to more than 80 countries.

Since first being reported in Wuhan, China last December, COVID-19 has affected more than 53 million people across the globe.

More than 1.3 million people have lost their lives because of the coronavirus infection.

Source: Anadolu Agency