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Taiwan deploys ‘scouts’ at clinics for coronavirus control

Health authorities join hands with local clinics to better manage Wuhan virus pandemic

Visitors have their temperatures taken before entering clinics in Taiwan. 

Visitors have their temperatures taken before entering clinics in Taiwan.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan has so far managed to prevent large-scale community outbreaks of the coronavirus thanks to its tactic of sending out “scouts” to gather relevant information on the front lines of the battle against the pandemic.

The focus of the country’s efforts to stem the spread of the Wuhan virus has shifted from containing imported cases to preventing community transmission. As of Tuesday (April 14), Taiwan has recorded 393 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 55 indigenous infections, and six deaths.

The deployment of “secret scouts” at community clinics is key to controlling the disease, reported Mirror Media. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has dispatched such sentries in myriad community medical centers to monitor the development of the coronavirus.

They are tasked with reporting the number of patients and their symptoms to the CECC. The figures, along with data from the National Health Insurance system, will serve as a reference to help the authorities get a grasp on local situations — for example, by alerting the CECC of a spike in cases with a fever.

This approach supports the CECC’s decision to adopt selective testing to target certain groups rather than mass screening, as some countries, such as South Korea, have done. CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) has said this method aims to produce accurate test results, use resources efficiently, and prevent the collapse of the country's medical system.

Taiwan has a coronavirus testing capacity of 3,800 a day, with samples collected at 163 institutions and analyzed at 34 labs and centers around the island. Those subject to testing include high-risk groups such as medical and aviation industry workers, individuals returning from other countries, and locals who visit crowded tourist spots.