Taiwan sends medical team to eSwatini to help fight coronavirus

African ally is facing spread of virus in hospital

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A Taiwanese medical team in eSwatini. (CNA/TMUH photo)

A Taiwanese medical team in eSwatini. (CNA/TMUH photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan has sent a medical team to African ally eSwatini to assist the country in fighting against the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The four-member medical team, nicknamed “Taiwan We Go Team,” from the Taipei Medical University Hospital (TMUH) arrived in eSwatini on May 1 and has been working with a local hospital designated to treat coronavirus patients, TMUH Superintendent Chen Ray-jade (陳瑞杰) told CNA on Tuesday (May 12).

Chen Li-yuan (陳立遠), an infectious disease specialist and head of the special medical deployment, said the priority of the team is to stem the spread of the virus in the hospital. If the hospital clusters cannot be stopped, there could be large-scare community transmissions, he said.

The African nation has confirmed more than 170 coronavirus cases and two deaths as of Tuesday morning. While most of the cases in eSwatini are young and asymptomatic, 10 to 20 percent of the infections have occurred among healthcare workers, showing that the virus containment in the hospital has been problematic.

The team has advised the hospital to re-arrange its medical equipment and patient flow as part of the approach to reducing infections in the hospital, said Chen Li-yuan. The team will also provide training to local medical workers regarding critical and clinical care and disease prevention and control, among other areas, he added.

In addition to Chen Li-yuan, the medical team consists of a thoracic physician, a respiratory therapist, and a registered nurse specializing in critical care.

As Taiwan’s only ally in Africa, eSwatini, a nation of about 1.1 million people, has suffered from poor healthcare services and inadequate medical resources. According to the TMUH superintendent, the hospital has collaborated with eSwatini’s health authorities since 2008, and there are also Taiwanese medical workers based there.