Dare I mention the C-word?
Days 844 – 846
We feel very fortunate to be in Taiwan now, in contrast to what is happening in Europe and other countries of the world. What can other countries learn from Taiwan?
Day 844, going back to last Sunday, it was our last full day in Cambodia was a day of rest for Tim and me, relaxing, writing and chillaxing by the pool.
Jac popped off to church and invited our lovely driver Keo to join her for the experience. He seemed quite taken by the lively music, clapping, the talk and the warm friendliness of the Cambodians at this International Church. Jac then took him to Vibe, a plant-based café (we visited their branch in Phnom Penh and thoroughly enjoyed their food). It’s geared for westerners, so another different experience for Keo, but Jac was disappointed that they didn’t have the menu in Khmer for him!
We got our bags packed and while I was trying to sort out check-in online for our two flights to Taiwan, Jac and Tim chatted to a lovely Polish couple, Michal and Ren. They were on their delayed honeymoon and originally met each other as students in Portsmouth. Jac and Tim suggested that they use Keo’s services, but sadly they had already booked a driver. We have had some contact with lovely Keo since and sadly his business, like many, has been adversely affected by the virus with cancellations and fewer tourists about.
We had wanted Jac to experience another country with us. Initially, Jac suggested going to Myanmar, but as the country didn’t seem to be very open about Coronavirus cases we decided against that. After chatting with a couple on the coach to Cambodia, who sang the praises of Taiwan, we did some research and decided that this was to be our next destination. We are so glad of our choice now.
After a few hours of flight and a quick nap on the plane, we arrived in Taiwan.
Despite Taiwan being just 81 miles away from mainland China, as of today, Taiwan has only 59 cases of COVID-19 and one death. To put this in perspective, the country has half the population of Spain, but a fraction of people suffering from this awful virus. (Spain has 8,794 at the last count).
How come Taiwan's COVID-19 cases are low?
There is an excellent report on NBC News called “What Taiwan can teach the world on fighting the coronavirus”. Well worth a read.
Here is a synopsis:
Immediate and decisive action - As soon as Taiwan learnt that China had many cases of severe “pneumonia”, they acted immediately. From 31st December they tested all passengers arriving on flights from Wuhan and checked all hospitals for cases, tracing contacts and isolating everyone involved, upping this action to all passengers in mid-January.
Set up a command centre – They rolled out a series of clear control measures and coordinated the response.
Use technology to detect and track cases – As soon as we entered the airport, temperature monitors automatically checked us. We also needed to complete a health form, together with our travel plans and contact details.
Banks and other buildings have this temperature facility. We have been tested with forehead thermometers at restaurants, hotels, and museums. Jac was welcomed at the Baptist Church here in Hualien by a masked lady with a forehead thermometer and anti-bacterial at the ready.
Anyone coming from severely affected areas is put under mandatory 14-day home quarantine, even if they are not feeling ill, and their movements are tracked using location sharing on their mobile phone. Anyone contravening this may receive a hefty fine.
Supplies are available – the government have stopped all masks being exported and organised soldiers to help with the production of these, ensuring that people, especially in densely populated areas, have masks to protect themselves and others.
Education – The government is being very transparent, broadcasting regularly, sharing sufficient medical knowledge, announcing the importance of washing hands properly and when to wear a mask. They have made it clear that it is a person’s travel history or contact with an infected person that determines their risk level, not their race; hence reducing discrimination.
The government’s aim is for people to feel safe. Our immune system suffers significantly when we are under stress, fearful and panic.
All of this is getting people’s buy-in. Parents are taking children’s temperature each day and checking that hands are washed thoroughly. Managers are doing the same with their employees and customers.
Let's hope that countries learn from good practice around the world quickly and we dearly hope that you are all safe and healthy wherever you are in the world; our thoughts are with you.