TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan has been able to bring its latest outbreak of coronavirus under control in a little over two months.
After keeping COVID at bay for more than one year, Taiwan experienced its first major domestic outbreak in mid-May when the daily case count shot up to 535 on May 17. Since then, the daily case count has trended downward with new cases hovering around 20 a day and is expected to continue to fall, unless new clusters flare up again, Taiwan's authorities say.
According to an op ed in The Diplomat, several factors helped Taiwan flatten the curve in only a few months. These were continuing the practice of mandatory mask mandates, quarantine measures, and contact tracing.
As early as April 2020, Taiwan was already requiring people to wear masks on public transport. This was eventually widened to every citizen in the country needing to don a mask outside of their homes.
Opening up quarantine facilities and hotels to local COVID cases also helped to reduce transmission within families, thereby helping cut down community spread. Taiwan’s use of its real-name registration system for contact tracing, while not perfect, also helped with virus containment.
Second, the government’s willingness to listen and adjust coronavirus policies was also vital. At the beginning of the domestic outbreak, authorities were still focusing on surface and droplet-based COVID transmission, instead of the global consensus that infection through aerosols in poorly ventilated areas was more important.
Authorities at the national and local levels made adjustments to eventually ban indoor dining and restrict indoor activities. The Diplomat also pointed out the ruling DPP government supported the purchase of BioNTech COVID vaccines from Germany, through a Chinese company, by Foxconn and TSMC as another example of the willingness to adjust policies.
The third factor was international aid in the form of much-needed vaccines in response to Taiwan’s donation of more than 51 million masks around the world last year during the pandemic. Japan has donated more than 3.3 million AstraZeneca shots, while the U.S. has given 2.5 million doses of Moderna vaccines. Lithuania, Slovakia, and Czechia have also pledged to donate tens of thousands of COVID doses to Taiwan.
After getting off to a slow start to its vaccination program, according to July 28 data, 7,588,692 people — or around 31.86% — have had at least one shot of a vaccine, while only 315,601 have been fully vaccinated with two shots.