The number of cases of infection and deaths from COVID-19 has been astonishingly low in Taiwan, with most of its businesses remaining open amid the pandemic. Even though the country did not enforce lockdown, about a week after a 4-day national holiday in April, there were zero new confirmed cases in Taiwan.
To show just how well Taiwan is doing in this pandemic, compare it to Australia, which is also an island nation with a similar population of around 24 million. Both countries have close business ties with China, so there is frequent travel to and shipping with China. Since the outbreak started, about 6,649 cases have been confirmed in Australia and 426 in Taiwan (as of April 22).
Let’s take a look at what Taiwan has done that has made it a sanctuary in this global disaster.
Distrusting the CCP
For historical and political reasons, Taiwan has taken a tough stance against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the past two decades. In their 2020 presidential election, indignant at the CCP-instigated police brutality in Hong Kong during the anti-extradition protests, the Taiwanese showed their intolerance for the CCP’s totalitarianism and said a big “no” to the pro-Beijing candidate.
At the same time, having learned its lesson the hard way from the SARS outbreak in 2002, the government did not take the CCP’s words at face value this time.
Just when the CCP claimed that the virus was under control, Taiwan quickly enacted necessary policies and took preventative measures. Its people worked closely with the government instead of feeling confused and panicking.
As it turned out, Taiwan was right about not trusting the CCP’s official messages and numbers. The CCP’s cover-up of the severity of the highly infectious virus at an early stage led to the global pandemic we are all now living with.
Imposing a Timely Travel Ban
As soon as the government heard about the outbreak, it quickly closed its border and banned entry to people from certain parts of China. The government’s precautions and hard stance against the CCP were supported by the people, who know all too well it is not a good idea to trust the CCP in such situations.
Not Relying on Chinese Production
Instead of relying on China to supply their face masks and PPEs, Taiwan quickly expanded its domestic production of masks and banned their export. The medical supply factories bumped up production to three shifts to meet their domestic needs. When there was a shortage of manpower, the government mobilized the military to help.
In 40 days, the production of masks went from 1 million to 12 million per day. After satisfying its domestic demand, Taiwan donated 10 million masks to the EU, the U.S., and other allies that had serious shortages. They are currently exporting supplies to over 20 countries. All the masks are medically certified because the country insisted that the PPEs must work in every situation.
The CCP, on the other hand, hoarded medical supplies and exported faulty masks and testing kits to other countries. Some masks were even found to have fly remains on them.
Not Copying the CCP’s Authoritarian Lockdown Model
While locking down cities or states later became the most important preventative measure in many Western countries, most people have been allowed to go about their lives as usual in Taiwan, except for delaying the reopening of schools for several weeks after the Chinese New Year. But with the above-mentioned preventative measures, Taiwan successfully stemmed the spread of the virus.
Schools Re-open with Aggressive Measures to Protect Students’ Safety
All schools are allowed to stay open with students sitting in their classrooms. All teachers and students are required to wear masks during their classes, and the schools carry out routine disinfections. A class is suspended and teaching goes online if one student tests positive. If two people on any campus test positive, the school is shut down and all teaching is done online.
People Gather and Travel
The government advises its people to wear masks and observe social distancing whenever and wherever possible. In early April, there was a 4-day national holiday when people traveled home to worship their ancestors. Many took the opportunity to get out and scenic destinations were heavily visited. The tourists wore masks and maintained social distancing. Government employees warned people not to overcrowd tourist attractions. Weeks later there was no sign of the community spread of the virus the doctors had worried about.