"Are you guys still in lockdown?" someone in another country asked me recently during an online video call. "No," I said, "We are not and never were in any kind of lockdown."
The schools are open, restaurants are open, trains and buses are running, and people are out in the parks in their free time; life continues almost as usual in Taiwan.
In late January, our location some 80 miles from the Chinese coast and the island's densely packed urban population was considered problematic. As we later found out, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was boarding planes and screening passengers arriving from Wuhan as early as December.
After travel restrictions, evacuations, contact tracing, home quarantines and hospitalizations, case numbers were on the decline in February. That remained the case until a few weeks ago as Taiwanese returning from other countries and some visitors became sick.
They had contracted the disease abroad. However, these people and their contacts have been isolated for a while and are being taken care of.
All the cases in the last few days have been linked to people traveling overseas or their contacts. In other words, we do not have an ongoing community transmission of the virus.
Being on an island has no doubt helped the authorities control the flow of people. However, I believe the key factor that has enabled us to maintain our way of life has been leadership.
I would like to give a special thanks to the Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who chairs a press conference every day without fail and has been seen to be personally involved in every detail of the operation; Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), who has been representing Taiwan to the world and cooperating closely with the American Institute in Taiwan; Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), a doctor, who has been giving us daily updates about how to work together in the capital city; Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), an epidemiologist, who has filled in large gaps left by the World Health Organization; Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who encourages us to buy as much as we want at stores and handles many other things; and President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who has set a steady course through the crisis.
These are the people I have seen in the news who are leading and representing the hard-working members of the government and public health workers enabling our current success. Thank you for everything.
As for me, I have a lovely wife and three kids and teach English, Social Studies, and Kung Fu at a Taipei public school. We are very happy and grateful that we are carrying on with our lives normally here in Taiwan.
Mark Blohm originally hails from Sudbury, Massachusetts, but has lived in Taiwan for the past 10 years. Blohm currently teaches at the Affiliated High School of National Chengchi University.