What Canada Can Learn From Taiwan in Dealing With COVID-19 Crisis

What Canada Can Learn From Taiwan in Dealing With COVID-19 Crisis
A mask-clad worker disinfects an area in Xindian district in New Taipei City on March 9, 2020. (Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images)
Winston Wen-yi Chen

With Canada enacting aggressive measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, it is clear that Ottawa could use all the help it can get, particularly from countries that have stemmed the spread of the virus. At this crucial moment, they need look no further than Taiwan.

Despite proximity and close economic links with China, Taiwan has relatively few cases, just 108 at the time of writing, and there has only been one death. Taiwan has only had to temporarily bar foreign nationals from visiting the country starting from March 19 as a result of the virus having spread so aggressively throughout the world.

Taiwan has also kept the outbreak to an absolute minimum, even while China blocks access to important information and services offered to other countries through agencies like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Even without WHO access, Taiwan can help. On March 18, Taiwan and the United States announced combined efforts to combat COVID-19, cooperating on research, rapid test development, vaccine and medicine creation, contact tracing, and more. As a result of Taiwanese coordination to produce medical face masks, Taiwan will be shipping 100,000 of these masks per week to the United States when its production capacity has stabilized.

Taiwan’s solutions are exportable, and its government is always ready to cooperate. If Canada wishes to adopt some of these solutions, Taiwan is ready. It is this kind of international cooperation that will help the world band together to combat COVID-19.

In terms of the solutions that Canada and Taiwan could collaborate on, there are many.

For instance, Taiwan has expertise on diagnosis and investigative activities. From the early days of the outbreak, authorities ensured that testing was streamlined, suspected patients were proactively and quickly examined, and cases of transmission were comprehensively traced, shutting down the spread of the disease. Officials also have a proven track record when it comes to proactive and comprehensive health checks on inbound passengers.

Some solutions could include controlling the production and distribution of key medical products like masks, creating a reliable and timely system of app-based information dissemination and ensuring public confidence. This was crucial in terms of supporting Taiwan’s overall effort to combatting the virus.

Other measures, including digitized entry screening to control and track new sources of cases, help to track and identify new sources of cases to isolate the disease, and trace any possible local transmissions.

These innovative measures, alongside more traditional travel controls and mandatory isolation for new arrivals, help to keep medical capacity high and disease incidents low.

By taking a holistic approach to managing the outbreak, Taiwan’s actions have been comprehensive and proactive, and ultimately remain among the most effective examples to date of managing and preventing the spread and negative spinoff impacts of COVID-19.

This expertise and containment strategy is also a testament to why Taiwan ought to be included in international institutions and agencies like the WHO. Taiwan is a willing, ready, and able partner dedicated to helping the international community engage in best practices to combat COVID-19.

Like-minded countries like Canada should continue to advocate for Taiwan’s meaningful inclusion in the WHO (as well as other international fora), so that Taiwan can share the lessons and best practices with other countries.

Thankfully, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau clearly articulated support for Taiwan’s observer status at the World Health Assembly meetings, and parliamentarians from all parties have also supported Taiwan’s meaningful inclusion in the WHO. These positive steps should be encouraged as they will help the global community combat COVID-19.

If Canada wants assistance in its fight against COVID-19, Taiwan makes sense as an ally. Much like cooperation between Taipei and Washington, there are certainly similar opportunities for Canada. All that is needed is for decision-makers to seize the initiative and work with Taiwan.

Taiwan’s actions in a short time frame prevented the virus from spreading, organized an efficient government response, maintained public confidence, and prevented shortages of critical supplies. There is still time for countries like Canada to apply many of these lessons. Taiwan is not just an example, but is a willing partner.

Winston Wen-yi Chen is the Representative at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada.
Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Representative at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada.
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