Taiwanese the luckiest
The severe respiratory disease originating in Wuhan, China, has infected more than 17 million people worldwide, with deaths exceeding 667,000.
Among a population of 23 million in Taiwan, there have been only 467 diagnosed COVID-19 cases and seven deaths.
The most remarkable fact is that Taiwan is a mere 160km from China, across the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan’s success in controlling the virus has been praised by the world, which I do not need to repeat here, but the following points are noteworthy:
First, Taiwan’s government and people learned a great lesson from their experience with SARS in 2003 about what to do and how to do it.
They promptly activated past policies, management structures and public health procedures upon getting the wind of a virus infection in China late last year.
In contrast, where controls were started late, a more disastrous health and economic crisis has been suffered up to this day.
Second, traditionally, Taiwan has an excellent public health policy and education.
Third, the National Health Insurance with its income-adjusted cost covers more than 95 percent of Taiwanese.
Substantial trust in government policies and citizen behavior has also been important in executing public health and safety guidelines to control the virus. Wearing face coverings and social distancing is highly effective. Occasional disputes on public transportation over such rules are trivial.
As such, the luckiest people live in Taiwan because they have survived this pandemic in ways most other countries have not.
New cases are minimal, there has been a relatively low impact on the economy and health systems, they have abundant food and supplies, including essential and luxury items, and they are free to travel in the nation with no restrictions.
As a professor and US citizen who emigrated from Taiwan, I have kept in close contact with several educational and health institutions there.
I am extremely proud of Taiwan’s successful achievements in controlling COVID-19.
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