Without a local case in 200 record days, this country is the envy of the world

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The total of 200 days without local cases has received global attention, including from lawmakers

France and Germany return to lockdown, as coronavirus cases in the US reach new highs, but halfway around the world Taiwan has hit another kind of record – more than 200 days without transmitted cases locally.

Taiwan holds by far the best virus record in the world and hit the 200-day mark on Thursday. His last local case occurred on April 12; there was no second wave. On Friday, it reached 201 days without a local case.

What did this island of 23 million people do well? He has had 553 confirmed cases, with just seven deaths. Experts say the early closure of borders and strict travel regulations have gone a long way in tackling the virus. Other factors include rigorous contact tracing, technology-enhanced quarantine, and widespread mask wear. Additionally, Taiwan’s deadly experience with SARS has scared people into complying.

The total of 200 days without local cases has received global attention, including from lawmakers. Among them, US Senator Bernie Sanders, who in a tweet mentioned the milestone, writing: “How did they do it? They believe in science.”

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People eat their meals behind plexiglass partitions at a food stall at the Ningxia Night Market in Taipei, Taiwan in early July.

Community transmission has been ruled out there, said Peter Collignon, an infectious disease physician and professor in the Australian National University School of Medicine. Taiwan “has probably had the best result in the world,” he said, adding that “it’s even more impressive” for an economy with a population about the same size as Australia, with many people living close to each other in apartments.

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In other parts of the world, the second wave is more important than the first. The United States set a new daily record for cases on Thursday, surpassing 86,000. Cases in Minnesota have increased the most since the start of the pandemic, while outbreaks in Texas accelerate. France, which goes into lockout from Friday, aims to limit the blow to economic activity to 15%, said Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire. Germany’s new curves start on Monday.

Taiwan is likely to be one of the few economies to grow this year, with the government forecasting in August that gross domestic product will grow 1.56% in 2020.

Yet Taiwan is not yet out of the woods. The government confirmed three more imported cases on Thursday, from the Philippines, the United States and Indonesia, and in the past two weeks it has recorded more than 20 imported cases. In addition, others who fought off the virus well initially, such as Singapore and Japan, then had spikes in cases.

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A municipal worker sprays disinfectant into the hands of a woman at the entrance to the Ningxia Night Market in Taipei, Taiwan, earlier in July.

What these places with rising infections can take away from Taiwan’s experience is that nothing works without contact tracing of people who have tested positive and then quarantined, Chen Chien said. jen, Taiwan’s former vice president and epidemiologist, in an interview.

Additionally, since it’s not easy to force people to stay in quarantine, Taiwan has taken steps to provide meals and groceries and even friendly contacts through Line Bot, a robot that sends texts and chats. There are also penalties – those who violate the quarantine face fines of up to NT $ 1 million ($ 35,000).

Here is how Taiwan reached its milestone:

Border control

Taiwan began shutting down to non-residents shortly after the outbreak of the pandemic in January and has maintained strict border controls ever since.

“Taiwan’s continued success is due to the strict enforcement of border controls,” says Jason Wang, director of the Center for Policy, Outcomes and Prevention at Stanford University. This includes symptom-based surveillance before travelers board flights and digital tracking of fences via cellular signals to ensure compliance with a 14-day quarantine, he said.

Masks, distribution

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Employees pack finished protective masks at Taiwan’s Comfort Champ Manufacturing Co. plant in Taoyuan, Taiwan, earlier in June.

The decision to stockpile and have a central distribution of face masks has played a key role in Taiwan’s success. At the start of the pandemic, the government stockpiled all face masks produced in the country and banned the export. In four months, companies increased production from 2 million to 20 million units per day, allowing the island to regularly ration masks to residents.

Contact tracking, quarantine

Taiwan has world-class contact tracing – on average, linking 20 to 30 contacts with each confirmed case. In extreme situations, such as that of a worker at a Taipei City hostess club who contracted the virus, the government has traced up to 150 contacts. Then all contacts must undergo a 14-day home quarantine, even if they test negative.

So far, around 340,000 people have been quarantined at home, and less than 1,000 have been fined for breaking it. That means 99.7% complied, according to Chen. “We sacrificed 14 days of 340,000 people in exchange for a normal life for 23 million people,” Chen said.

SARS experience

The painful lessons of past epidemics have paved the way for Taiwan’s success in the fight against Covid. He began building an emergency response network to contain infectious disease after his experience with SARS in 2003, when hundreds of people fell ill and at least 73 died, for the third highest infection rate. raised to the world. Taiwan later experienced pandemics like bird flu and H1N1 flu. As a result, its residents are keenly aware of disease-fighting habits such as hand washing and wearing masks.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)

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