Taiwan’s successful handling of the COVID-19 outbreak and the relatively low number of deaths that resulted should serve as a model for other countries, says Judy Sgro, a Liberal MP and chair of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship Group.
“Their measures should be a model for the rest of the world to follow. They were very active, they were very careful, they protected their people,” Sgro said in a recent interview.
“If the rest of the world had been following Taiwan’s example much sooner, [the pandemic] would have caused much less death.”
Despite Taiwan’s population of 23 million people and its close proximity to China, the island nation has seen only 440 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with seven deaths to date.
Much of their success has been attributed to early detection and strategic, coordinated prevention to stop the spread of the virus. This included restricting all travel from China in the early days of the outbreak, enforcing a mandatory two-week quarantine for all those who recently entered Taiwan, and using big-data analysis to track potential carriers of the virus.
Authorities also banned the export of face masks and took early action to ensure a steady supply of personal protective equipment.
“The people of Taiwan are smart, they have a smart government, they know exactly how to read these different issues,” said Sgro.
“Especially since [the virus] was coming from China, they immediately put into play all the necessary safety precautions to protect their people. And they didn’t trust anybody else’s information, they did their own research, their own investigation, and they have done extremely well.”
Taiwan’s success has been a thorn in Beijing’s side as it asserts its independence from mainland China through campaigns for more global influence and a seat at the World Health Organization. Taiwan argues its exclusion, even as an observer at WHO meetings, has created a dangerous gap in the fight against the pandemic.
Last week, Canada joined Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand, Britain, Japan, and the United States to call on WHO to give Taiwan observer status at an upcoming meeting of the U.N. agency set for next week.
Also last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and opposition leader Andrew Scheer officially thanked Taiwan for its gift of 500,000 surgical masks to Canada.
With reporting by Limin Zhou