Asia - Pacific, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

COVID-19: No new case in Taiwan as strategy bears fruit

Island nation’s effective response has curbed spread of coronavirus, majority of 393 cases are imported

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 14.04.2020
COVID-19: No new case in Taiwan as strategy bears fruit


No new coronavirus case was reported in Taiwan over the past 24 hours, the first such instance in over a month, authorities said on Tuesday. 

The island country, which China claims as a breakaway province, has nearly 400 COVID-19 cases so far, with six deaths and 124 recoveries.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung, who also heads the Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), said this was the first time in 36 days that no new case was reported on Taiwanese territory.

According to daily Taiwan News, 338 of Taiwan’s total 393 coronavirus patients were people who had returned from abroad.

Taiwan, which has a population of over 23 million, recorded the lowest number of cases per million people anywhere in the world over the past 50 days, according to the Oxford University-based research group Our World in Data.

The low case count has been ensured without a complete lockdown. Schools and businesses continue normal operations, but people have been asked to wear protective masks and strictly follow COVID-19 precautions.

‘Lessons for the world’

Taiwan’s effective response has been attributed to its "early preparedness, health expertise, government competence, and popular alertness."

According to report by the U.S.-based Council on Foreign Relations, Taiwan alerted the World Health Organization (WHO) about the new coronavirus’ potential for human-to-human transmission on Dec. 31 but received no response.

"Instead, the WHO endorsed China’s denial of human-to-human transmission until January 21. While the WHO appeared to downplay the global threat, Taiwan adopted vigorous measures for screening, testing, contact tracing, and enforcing quarantines," said the report.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has also earned praised for her decisive leadership during the coronavirus crisis.

"Back in January, at the first sign of a new illness, she [Tsai] introduced 124 measures to block the spread, without having to resort to the lockdowns that have become common elsewhere," read an article in Forbes Magazine.

A report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) last month said Taiwan’s government implemented lessons learnt from its experience with the 2003 SARS outbreak.

"Well-trained and experienced teams of officials were quick to recognize the crisis and activated emergency management structures to address the emerging outbreak … Through early recognition of the crisis, daily briefings to the public, and simple health messaging, the government was able to reassure the public by delivering timely, accurate, and transparent information regarding the evolving epidemic," read the report.

"Taiwan is an example of how a society can respond quickly to a crisis and protect the interests of its citizens."

Over 1.94 million COVID-19 cases have now been reported in 185 countries and regions since the virus emerged in China last December, with Europe and the U.S. being the worst-hit areas.

The global death toll has crossed 120,000, while over 458,000 patients have recovered around the world so far, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the U.S.

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