Believe it or not, Taiwan just went 200 days without a single locally transmitted COVID-19 case

As the world continues to struggle against the COVID-19 infection, Taiwan on Thursday marked the completion of 200 days without a locally transmitted coronavirus case.

The COVID-19 pandemic still continues to wreak havoc around the world, and controlling the pandemic is nothing less than a mammoth task. While India has taken its COVID-19 caseload to 80 lakh mark, Taiwan, meanwhile reached a milestone and has achieved a new record: 200 days without recording a locally transmitted coronavirus case.

Coronavirus cases in the world are surging to new highs, while Taiwan on Thursday recorded the world’s best coronavirus record and reached the new landmark of no second wave of novel coronavirus with zero locally transmitted cases in the past 200 days. The island country reported its last locally transmitted COVID-19 infection on April 12 and since then Taiwan has not recorded a single locally transmitted case of coronavirus infection.

According to the reports, Taiwan has recorded 553 cases of COVID-19 and just seven deaths, since the arrival of the pandemic. Taiwan’s Centre for Disease and Control (CDC) observed the record on Thursday and thanked the people of the country for the role they played in curbing the virus. They also urged people to continue to wear masks and to wash their hands often in order to push the virus away from their country.

This record achieved by Taiwan is being considered as a big success story on how a country can respond to the pandemic in order to dismantle the growth of the deadly virus. The island country came out to be a game-winner, despite having close business and tourism ties with China, the source country of the COVID-19 where the virus was first seen late last year. Taiwan’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been one of the world’s most effective.

Is Taiwan the first country to eradicate local transmission?

Taiwan’s last domestic case was reported on April 12 which was case number 386, and since then no domestically transmitted case has been recorded in the country. Also, it is important to note that China too declared “zero” local infections on March 19. But China has since then officially acknowledged subsequent small outbreaks in cities like Guangdong, Beijing, Yunnan, Wuhan, Heilongjiang, Liaoning, Jilin, Qingdao, and Xinjiang.

However, it’s interesting that Taiwan, an island of more than 23 million people, has gone 200 days without a locally transmitted COVID-19 infection without ever forcing a single city or nationwide lockdown. While, China which several times claimed to be coronavirus free, forcefully shut the homes of Wuhan residents during the alleged peak of the virus outbreak.

As per the reports, Taiwan achieved this impressive record of consecutive 200th day without a domestically transmitted COVID-19 infection through early border shutdowns, intensive contact tracing, enforced quarantines, and loyal mask use by its residents.

How Taiwanese did it right?

Since the arrival of the pandemic, Taiwan has recorded only 553 cases of COVID-19 and just seven deaths. Experts suggest that this was only possible as authorities in Taiwan closed the borders early and tightly regulated travel. This was the major reason behind the Taiwanese government has gone a long way towards fighting the virus. Other factors like technology-enforced quarantine, rigorous contact tracing, mask related measures, and sanitisation also played an important role in eliminating the growth of the virus in the island country.

Taiwan since the virus was first reported kept tight control over its borders did not allow any non-resident to enter the country or cross its borders. The primary reason Taiwan was able to control the rate of infection was the strict enforcement of border control. Also, to protect the citizens of the country Taiwanese government stockpiled all domestically produced face masks as the country banned all the exports.

It was even reported that Taiwan really focussed and targeted contact tracing. The government in the country did an excellent job of tracing the infected patients. In extreme situations, such as that of a worker at a Taipei City hostess club who contracted the virus, the government tracked down as many as 150 contacts. 

It is also believed that Taiwan also had experience on its side. SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic of 2003, which heavily impacted the island, gave Taiwan the experience needed to effectively combat the coronavirus pandemic.

SARS experience really helped Taiwan:

Around 17 years ago, Taiwan learned a hard lesson from SARS as the country suffered the highest mortality rate in the world at that time. After the country suffered so much, they established a permanent National Health Command Centre. This National Health System developed by Taiwan helped the country in the past few months to identify people who developed respiratory problems and tested them for novel coronavirus.

By late January, the government started using records from its National Health System. Officials of the country also used immigration databases to prioritise the testing of the people who had travelled to hot spots. The government also invested in mass testing and also very quick in identifying the infected people with the help of contact tracing.

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