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How has Taiwan saved its coronavirus an infection charge so low?

When the outbreak first began in January, some consultants predicted that Taiwan would have the best variety of instances exterior of mainland China.

More than two months after a brand new virulent coronavirus emerged from the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan, greater than 1.four million individuals in dozens of nations world wide have been contaminated.

The COVID-19 an infection, nonetheless, has largely spared Taiwan, regardless of the island’s relative proximity to the virus’s origin.

When the outbreak first began in January, some consultants predicted that Taiwan would have the best variety of instances exterior of mainland China.

However, whereas mainland China has had over 80,000 COVID-19 instances so far, Taiwan has saved its variety of confirmed instances beneath 400. Some worldwide well being consultants credit score this to Taiwan’s fast preparation and early intervention.

Taiwan took early motion

“Due to the hard lessons that Taiwan learned during the SARS epidemic in 2003, it is more prepared for the coronavirus outbreak than many other countries,” stated Dr. Chunhuei Chi, a public well being professor on the Oregon State University within the US.

Taiwan’s authorities launched a journey ban on guests from China, Hong Kong and Macau quickly after the variety of coronavirus instances started to rise in mainland China.

Anticipating the excessive demand for masks in late January, the Taiwanese authorities began rationing the present provide of masks. Taiwanese residents can now go to designated drug shops throughout the island to line up and purchase a certain quantity of masks on a weekly foundation. Chi identified that this coverage has additionally been duplicated in different international locations like South Korea and France.

“Taiwan leveraged the strength of its manufacturing sector and invested approximately $6.8 million (€ 6 million) to create 60 new mask production lines,” stated Chi.

“This increased Taiwan’s daily mask pro production capacity from 1.8 million masks to 8 million masks. This has been called ‘Taiwan’s Mask Miracle.’”

Technology for early detection

The Taiwanese authorities has additionally used knowledge know-how to assist medical personnel establish and hint suspected sufferers and high-risk people.

In a paper printed within the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Jason Wang, a public well being coverage skilled at Stanford University within the US, highlighted Taiwan’s use of know-how to trace the whereabouts of these beneath quarantine.

“The government will call you and try to figure out where you are,” stated Wang. “They can track people with their phone, which allows them to make sure all individuals who are supposed to go through the mandatory 14-day quarantine and are not violating the rules by sneaking out of their quarantine locations.”

The Taiwanese authorities additionally gives assist for these put beneath quarantine. Local village leaders will deliver a bag of primary provides like meals or books to quarantined people. Since most quarantines are enforced, the Taiwanese authorities additionally rolled out a welfare program that gives a $30 each day allowance to these affected by the quarantine through the two-week interval.

“This gives Taiwanese people more incentive to report their symptoms honestly,” Wang stated.

“That’s the way democracies are handling quarantine during the coronavirus outbreak, and it’s very different from authoritarian governments. I think this is a case where democracies should leverage their data and technologies appropriately, so they can triage people to the right place and follow up with appropriate care.”

Taiwan fights off Chinese disinformation

While the Taiwanese authorities was busy containing the coronavirus outbreak, the island additionally witnessed a surge of coronavirus disinformation on in style social media platforms.

Mixed with simplified Mandarin characters sometimes utilized in mainland China, and phrases which can be principally unfamiliar to social media customers in Taiwan, researchers shortly concluded that these disinformation campaigns originated from mainland China.

Taiwan FactCheck Center, a nonprofit group that focuses on debunking disinformation in Taiwan, shortly knowledgeable most of the people of those disinformation campaigns, which have been principally aimed on the Taiwanese authorities.

“This wave of disinformation campaign is a new vector for an old form of attack, using a health crisis as a new way of attacking Taiwan,” stated Nick Monaco, director of the digital intelligence lab on the Institute for the Future.

Monaco stated that clear communication between the federal government and civil society in Taiwan helps fend off disinformation campaigns.

“All these things combined make the danger of mass rumors being spread in a situation like this pretty improbable,” Monaco instructed DW. “Before rumors like this become widespread, they are already debunked by the Taiwan Fact Check Center and the Taiwanese government.”

Taiwan’s medical analysis

Taiwan has additionally invested in its biomedical analysis capability over the previous few many years and analysis groups have been working to mass-produce a speedy diagnostic take a look at for COIVD-19.

Last Sunday, a analysis workforce at Taiwan’s Academia Sinica sucessfully generated and examined an antibody that can be utilized to establish the protein that causes the coronavirus. They intention to supply a brand new speedy take a look at for the coronavirus that may shorten the timeframe for prognosis to 20 minutes.

The lead researcher of the workforce, Dr. Yang An-Suei, stated on March eight that the subsequent step for the workforce is to validate the product earlier than rolling out a speedy take a look at package in Taiwan.

And though Beijing continues to dam Taiwan from rejoining the World Health Organization (WHO), public well being skilled Wang stated that Taiwan continues to share its expertise in combating the coronavirus outbreak with different international locations.

“Taiwan has been sharing their epidemic prevention strategies with other countries through tele-conferences, while helping countries that lack advanced medical capabilities to process samples from patients,” Wang stated.

“In my opinion, WHO needs Taiwan far more than Taiwan needs the WHO in the fight against coronavirus,” stated Chi.

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