World
Posted: 3 weeks ago

How Taiwan Keeps its Coronavirus Infection Rate Low

Taiwan's number of COVID-19 infections is currently below 60, despite the island's proximity to the outbreak's epicenter on mainland China. Experts say early intervention has helped stop a public health crisis.

When the outbreak first started in January, some experts predicted that Taiwan would have the highest number of cases outside of mainland China.

Taiwan took early action

Taiwan's government introduced a travel ban on visitors from China, Hong Kong and Macau soon after the number of coronavirus cases began to rise in mainland China. Additionally, the government implemented a ban on exporting surgical masks, ensuring a stockpile in Taiwan.

The Taiwanese government integrated data from national health insurance with immigration and customs data. This has allowed frontline medical personnel to identify suspected patients after examining their travel histories.

The Taiwanese government also developed a program that has allowed people to report travel histories and symptoms of illness by scanning a QR code when they arrive in Taiwan.

Travelers then receive a text message with their health status, allowing customs officers to skip low risk passengers and focus on passengers with a high COVID-19 infection risk.

The public's willingness to follow government regulations has also helped Taiwanese officials respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

Taiwan's medical research

Taiwan has invested in its biomedical research capacity over the last few decades and research teams have been working to mass-produce a rapid diagnostic test for COIVD-19.

A research team at Taiwan's Academia Sinica developed antibodies that can identify the protein that causes the coronavirus. They aim to produce a new rapid test for the coronavirus that can shorten the time frame for diagnosis to 20 minutes.

The lead researcher of the team, Dr. Yang An-Suei, said on March 8 that the next step for the team is to validate the product before rolling out a rapid test kit in Taiwan.