TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A book about the case study of a Taiwanese university's coronavirus containment efforts has been released, and it has been hailed as a great example of Taiwan's relative success in controlling the outbreak by CommonWealth Magazine executive Jane Liu (劉鳯珍).
The book launch coincided with the anniversary of the country's first imported COVID-19 cases as well as the current experience of a COVID-19 cluster related to a hospital outbreak. Taiwan’s health minister on Tuesday (Jan. 19) appealed for alertness and vowed a swift response to the dynamic situation.
Lauded for its fast, coordinated response at the beginning of the outbreak, the Tainan-based National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) and its affiliated NCKU Hospital have been approached by their peers from around the world over the past year to share their experience managing the pandemic.
The new book records and recognizes the critical work done by the team members as well as many unknown others. It notes the systematic reflection on the school's risk-mitigation measures taken under the leadership of Su Huey-jen (蘇慧貞), the school’s president, and Shen Meng-ru (沈孟儒), the hospital’s superintendent.
Su recalled that when the global outbreak began in 2020, the school decisively collaborated with hospital executives to hammer out a set of comprehensive disease control solutions.
These included daily emergency response meetings, the postponement of the start of a new semester, the country's first quarantine dormitory for international students, an interdisciplinary epidemic response task force, a prefabricated outdoor screening post adjacent to the hospital, as well as patient flow arrangements to significantly reduce hospital traffic and patient length-of-stay.
NCKUH Superintendent Shen Meng-ru explains how the outdoor screening post works to minimize the risk of cross-infection. (Taiwan News photo)
The school and the hospital also leveraged their academic resources and medical talent to build up various devices to protect health workers from exposure to the virus, such as a full-face nebulizer and a shield box to prevent droplet and aerosol contamination when performing airway intubation.
An AI-enabled algorithm for reading chest X-rays in seconds as well as a low-cost protein chip for detecting COVID-19 antibodies with a sensitivity of 97 percent are among the eye-popping innovations developed by the team. The latter technology has already been transferred to several American labs.
It is noteworthy that the NCKU team’s rapid and innovative AI diagnostic system took home the top award against 1560 competing teams from around the world in the World Health Organization's first COVID-19 hackathon in April last year.
"Taiwan is endeavoring to share its knowledge and to make a notable contribution to the world by showing that #TaiwanCanHelp. NCKU will continue to play a vital role in guarding the local community and making contributions to the global community with our knowledge that upholds our mission and values," said Su.
NCKU President Su Huey-jen recalls team effort to contain virus during a book launch on Jan. 19. (Taiwan News photo)