THE GLOBAL RESPONSE TO COVID-19
The pandemic swept the world at an unexpected rate, but some countries handled the pandemic better than others.
Immediate response and travel bans
OUTSIDE of China, the rest of the world debated whether any action, if any, was necessary when the World Health Organization (WHO) sounded the alarm on COVID-19 earlier this year. Taiwan did not waste any time and was one of the first countries to act—imposing travel bans from most parts of China and a 14-day quarantine for new arrivals.
“Taiwan rapidly implemented a list of at least 124 action items in the past five weeks to protect public health,” said Dr. Jason Wang, an associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford Medicine and policy-analysis expert, referring to the measures implemented by President Tsai Ing-wen since January. “The policies and actions go beyond border control because they recognized that that wasn’t enough.”
In the Stanford Health Policy article, Wang also praised his native Taiwan for its robust pandemic
prevention plan, which was established, along with the National Health Command Center (NHCC), after
the 2003 SARS outbreak. Among their early actions were pushing for an increase in face mask production (and banning its export to ensure enough local supply) and mass testing.
Taiwan’s health-insurance system provided universal coverage to its citizens, so citizens were not afraid to go to the hospital, Taiwanese government representative Kolas Yotaka told NBC News in an interview. “You can get a free test, and if you’re forced to be isolated during the 14 days, we pay for your food, lodging, and medical care.”
Transparency is also a priority of the government, requiring television and radio stations to broadcast public service announcements (PSAs) about COVID-19 by the hour. “We think only when the information is transparent, and people have sufficient medical knowledge, will their fear be reduced,” Kolas added.
As of April 27, Taiwan has reported 429 cases and six deaths.