How did Taiwan curb the spread of COVID 19 so quickly? What is Taiwan doing that we aren’t?

When those living in Europe or America think of Asia, the thoughts often result in crowded night markets, crowded streets, crowded transportation systems, great street food, and beautiful temples. One might think that a country like Taiwan being so crowded will quickly follow down the footsteps of China. with COVID 19 quickly spreading within the population to pandemic proportions.

“Life is going on, as usual.” says Andy K., a 45-year-old South African business owner who is currently living in Taiwan."

“The trains are running, the shops are open. Being such a technologically advanced country, they track everyone who has been exposed to COVID 19 right away.”


What do you mean by “tracking” them?

“It’s not like there is a police force on the streets forcing people to quarantine or anything. People are very self disciplined and don’t need to be policed or anything.” Says Andy K.

“The people exposed simply get a message that they have been exposed and are asked to check in with the doctors. Everyone is doing their part.”


Have you felt any difference in your day to day activities?

“Very little, everything is open, people are going about their business as usual”

What does Taiwan know that we don’t?

Jeff Wu, A 35 year old Taiwanese native who is now a Canadian permanent resident answers some questions.


How do you compare the public’s and government’s response to an outbreak here in North America as opposed to in Taiwan?

“You know, since SARS, and H1N1 Taiwan knows the drill. They have been there before and they are prepared to deal. When I was a kid, there was no messing around. Basically when the SARS outbreak started, Schools were still running but everyday before class, there was school staff measuring everyone’s temperature with either digital thermometers or a thermometer with a disposable cap. If someone experienced fever, it doesn’t matter what the cause, they automatically quarantine themselves at home.”


Can you describe the drills during outbreaks?

“There were emergency statements from the government but it was not as terrifying as businesses closing down, the media exploding on the subject causing panic. There was no food shortage, people just take their regular food and remain calm . You will see a stock up during typhoon season but this is because the weather will physically prevent you from going to the store. People are quite mindful of each other.”

“The government’s response is also very quick. I think that this really makes a difference. People follow instructions as soon as they are given (mandatory temperature taken, masks, checking into the hospitals, self quarantine). Other than that, life goes on. “


How do you feel about the healthcare system here in Canada as opposed to in Taiwan?

“Health care in general here is terrifying to be honest. I love living here, I am married to a Canadian woman and my children are Canadian. But If I am asked what I would change, the only thing would be the healthcare system. Having to wait for months to see a specialist is unheard of in Taiwan. I was shocked to see that a first world country was so behind on such a basic human right.”

“In Taiwan you will go see a doctor, get a prescription, get treated in the matter of an hour or two no matter what. Although health insurance doesn’t cover everything, you pay little to nothing. You pay the appointment fee but everything else is covered, even the drugs. Even the dentist is covered by the government. You only pay the appointment fee.”

Even the dentist is covered by the government. You only pay the appointment fee.

“ People will go to the doctor for the smallest things and there is still no overflow with the patients. There is no shortage in doctors and this might be due to the cultural background. People who want to get out of poverty will often study three main subjects, doctor, engineer or construction.”

Vaccines are taken seriously

“Speaking as the son of pharmacist parents in Taiwan, everyone takes vaccines very seriously.”

“The vaccine is not performed by the clinic, it is performed by the local government subsidized clinic that goes to all the schools and everyone has to get vaccinated. Vaccine is not an option, it’s a standard. I have never seen anyone “against vaccines” there. It’s very strange to witness this here. To me, Understanding the need to be vaccinated is like basic math. Everyone knows why it’s so important.”

Healthy people wear masks everyday

“Another big difference is that In Asia, we use masks all the time whether we are on a scooter, on the street. All the time, sick or not sick. Even when not sick if you work in the food industry you always wear a mask and this was the difference between Westerners and Asians restaurant owners in Taiwan. When I worked in a Westerner owned restaurant we didn’t wear masks. The owner was always worried that it would “freak people out” to be served with the waiter or cook wearing a mask. The mindset between Westerners and Asians was completely different when it came to this subject. Asians wear them all the time, COVID 19, or no COVID 19, even when they are healthy, just out of prevention.”

“Healthy people often wear them out of prevention, and sick people wear them when they are sick. This prevents the spread of diseases even before they start”

About the Health care system in Taiwan

Taiwan has a unique health insurance environment. The government owns the health insurance and requires that the data be processed electronically.

The information exchange is done rapidly among health care professionals and the government is quickly able to track down anyone who has been exposed to an infection disease.

There are no million hour waits in emergency rooms in Taiwan despite the number of people there. This is because they have developed an advanced health care system. Furthermore, if you feel the need to go see a specialist such as a dermatologist for example, then you just go see one. You don’t need to go see a general doctor first in order to get a piece of paper saying that you can be referred to a specialist. There is no wasting time.

Taiwan is an island with a population of 23.78 million people and a total land area of 32,260 km2.

Those are some pretty big achievements for an overlooked island. Perhaps the world should take note, and follow their example.

The names of the people interviewed have been changed as they wished to remain anonymous.

The powerful lady-pharaoh that ruled over ancient Egypt.

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