The COVID-19 pandemic started in the later part of Dec. 2019 in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organization (WHO), on Jan. 14, tweeted that there is no clear evidence of human to human transmission of the COVID-19. Unlike the WHO's statement, Taiwan Centers for Disease discovered otherwise and inquired about this at the platform for sharing and updates of UN's International Health Regulations.
Various health institutions and world leaders are now recognizing the way Taiwan handles the COVID-19 pandemic. It is worth noting that Taiwan was among the first countries that have recorded four new infections on Jan. 25. This is the time when the world is still trying to wake up to the possible dangers of the novel coronavirus.
Taiwan has 24 million population, and with the four new cases, it immediately implemented strict border controls. The country is proximate to China and has a strong trade link to the COVID-19 infected region. Ten weeks after the first infection, other countries like Australia recorded 5,000 infected patients, while Taiwan only has 400.
Many are now wondering and lauding how Taiwan was able to keep the number of its infected cases low while other countries are now recording ten times more infected patients. According to CNN, the country might have learned its lesson from the previous SARS outbreak in 2003. A recent report from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed that the Taiwan National Health Command Center (NHCC) immediately prepared to respond to any potential threat.
Taiwan also has a world-class health care system with universal coverage, the report states. When news about the COVID-19 virus hit Taiwan, the country implemented its 124 action items to protect the public's health. The policies of this action items and actions go beyond the usual border control because Taiwan understands that that alone is not enough, says Taiwanese Doctor and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford Medicine, Jason Wang.
Taiwan's early decisive measures at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic include travel restrictions from various parts of China. The country also imposed strict punishments for people caught breaching home quarantine orders. Moreover, Taiwan officials increased domestic face mask production to make sure the availability of domestic supply is sufficient.
Additionally, Taiwan rolled out island-wide COVID-19 testing and retested people with unexplained pneumonia. The government also imposed new punishments for those fond of spreading disinformation about the COVID-19. Aside from its meager population, Taiwan's experience with the SARS outbreak in 2003 make it more equipped and prepared in handling the deadly novel coronavirus.