How does a country with a population of 24 million people practically make COVID disappear? It’s not easy, but it’s certainly possible, as Taiwan has done just that. No, COVID-19 has not been completely eradicated from the area, but it’s pretty dang close. So, how did they do it?
Well, through a combination of fast action, preparation, and community participation, really. Taiwan has gone over 200 days without COVID-19 local transmissions and has had fewer than 600 cases since the start of the pandemic. Yes, less than 600!
Now, before we dive into the action plan Taiwan has put into place to handle the pandemic so well, one big thing to note is that Taiwan has also been a dedicated distributor of PPE worldwide. Not only did Taiwan distribute over 400,000 quality PPE’s to Ontario, but it also sent another 54 million PPE’s to over 80 countries around the world. Pretty impressive, to say the least.
While some countries, including parts of our country, are reverting back to lockdown strategies while seeing case numbers rise, Taiwan is doing just the opposite. In fact, they did the opposite from the very beginning. Their strategy was simple but effective and consisted of 3 major steps:
- Mask distribution system to help ensure there was enough PPE for Taiwan and other countries
- Establishment of a mandatory mask policy
- Strict border control for all travellers to undergo 14 days of quarantine along with designated “Quarantine hotels” for international travellers to self-isolate in.
- Development of quick testing systems which require no electricity, and could provide results within 15 minutes.
- Development of a sophisticated contact-tracing system
- Research on COVID-19 vaccine at the beginning of the year
A lot of that sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Naturally, the one that stands out to us most is the development of quick testing systems. This certainly would have helped across Canada, but it looks like we’ll sooner see a vaccine than a widely-distributed rapid testing program. But hey, here’s hoping!
All in all, what can we learn from Taiwan? Well, the biggest reason all of these action items led to a nearly COVID-less system may be most easily attributed to the average Taiwanese citizen buying in. That, and the fact that many of these pandemic-response procedures have been in place for years, has led to Taiwan being a success story in a year when those are far and few between.
So as the second wave of COVID-19 settles in, maybe we should remind ourselves that we’re a hell of a lot stronger if we all fight this together. Be safe, be kind, and let’s get through this.