During this difficult pandemic, there is one nation that is only 81 miles away from China, the epicenter of the disease, that effectively stopped the contamination of their nation.
Taiwan News reported that there are no new cases for almost a week and, according to Worldometer, Taiwan has had an astonishingly low amount of cases, only a little over 400 cases out of 23.8 million people compared to the United States, which, at this writing, has over 1.5 million cases.
Even Bill Gates, a philanthropist and activist, has praised Taiwan’s success.
“Well, there are countries like Taiwan who are exemplary and saw the problem and really got the community-wide testing done very well,” Gates said to Formosa TV English News, a TV station based in Taipei, Taiwan. “They prioritized who got tested and so they won’t either have the disease burden or the economic effect that other countries will have.”
So how did Taiwan do it and how can the United States learn from their example? The Taiwanese government implemented a complex and thorough plan that has made their nation and its people safe from the COVID-19 virus, but there were four effective strategies that can be easily implemented here in the United States:
- Fast response time
The response time and readiness that the Taiwanese government had played a large role in slowing the spread of the virus. With the fear of another epidemic such as SARS as the motive behind it, Taiwan readied itself for when another pandemic would appear.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Taiwan CDC began health screening of passengers on flights arriving from Wuhan, around the time of New Year’s Day. The report went on to say how the government assembled a “cross-departmental task force and an expert team of leaders in infectious diseases, public health and laboratory sciences,” to counter the pandemic outbreak.
If the U.S. had adopted this method near the beginning of the outbreak, the COVID-19 outbreak wouldn’t be as serious as it is now. Of course, the U.S. cannot turn back the clock and start over, but we can start to respond faster to the spread of the virus as well as prepare for future outbreaks of this virus and others
- Strategic quarantine
Another way Taiwan effectively halted the spread of COVID-19 so drastically is because they strategically quarantined those who were infected, exposed to the virus, or even traveled abroad.
For example, World Magazine reports about a family that was required to quarantine after returning to Taiwan from a trip to Austria, where local officials checked on the family and to “drop off a care package with desserts, rice and surgical masks.” The officials even called each day to make sure they stay quarantined at home and if they’ve developed symptoms.
If this sort of care and attention were to be adopted by other nations, people who are infected or at danger of being infected would be encouraged and have the motive to stay inside and cease the spread of COVID-19. The U.S. can also do the same by tracking and actively monitoring the quarantine of infected or exposed people.
The Taiwanese government used “data technology” to not only identify patients who were high risk and put them under quarantine and track their movements, according to an article by Stanford researchers. Once under quarantine, patients would be tracked via GPS through their phone to restrict movement. If the U.S. government formed groups to watch over a wide area to track quarantine breakers, it would help contain the virus and keep the numbers low.
The Taiwanese government utilized fines heavily in order to give people a motive to stay home. This was seen in one case on Hong Kong Free Press, where one man was fined one million NT ($33,000 USD) for breaking quarantine rules and going to a club.
Although the U.S. government is currently utilizing fines, the amount is nowhere near the amount that Taiwan is implementing, at a maximum of $5,000 USD, according to Cornell Law School. If the U.S. were to increase their fines and enforce them, people would have a higher motive to stay home.
All in all, the methods utilized by the Taiwanese government helped stop the virus from invading a tiny country and preventing a massive outbreak that could have decimated a small country like Taiwan. If other nations, like the U.S., adopted just these four strategies Taiwan successfully used, the pandemic wouldn’t be as severe as it is now.