With over 2,500 total coronavirus cases, including 1,131 recoveries, Taiwan, has emerged as a success story in blocking the transmission of the virus.
The country has over 23 million people and been hailed for its prudent containment measures to protect its citizens from the pandemic that is wreaking havoc in several countries around the globe.
Since the outbreak last year, the island has reported 16 COVID-related deaths.
Multiple steps accounted for the effective containment of the disease which included early border control with stricter restrictions, putting a ban on foreign travellers, and imposing compulsory quarantine for the Taiwanese returning home.
It laid out a four-level system of COVID-19 alerts, each describing the criteria of imposition and a set of preventive measures, according to Focus Taiwan
Level 1: Imported coronavirus cases resulting in isolated community transmission. During this level, there was a mandatory requirement of wearing masks at all times especially when using public transport services and at crowded gatherings. Offices and public venues were required to establish an identification-based system, temperature checks, disinfection measures, and practice social distancing.
Level 2: Cases emerging due to domestic transmission from unknown sources. At this point, there would be an imposition of a fine for failing to wear masks. Outdoor gathering of more than 500 people and indoor of more than 100 people were to be cancelled and public venues had to abide by the COVID-appropriate protocol mentioned in Level 1.
Level 3: Three community clusters detected within a week or 10 domestically transmitted cases from unknown sources in one day. This level has stricter norms with masks to be worn at all times when venturing out. Outdoor gathering of more than 10 people and indoor gathering of more than five would be banned. Businesses and public venues to be shut except essential services, medical services, law enforcement bodies and government offices with adherence to social distancing norms. Residents to stay within defined spaces and comply with testing norms in the zones where such transmission has occurred.
Level 4: When there is a sharp increase in domestic cases (a daily average of above 100 cases reported over the past 14 days). Measures, at this stage, comprise of restriction on physical restrictions and one can go outdoor only for essential activities while following social distancing and remaining masked. One is also required to wear a mask while at home. Lockdown would be imposed and only designated people can enter such regions, the rest remain home.
Last year, immediately after the outbreak as China was shutting down Wuhan, Taiwan had reportedly stepped into the action mode and had set-up its Central Epidemic Command Center. Prior to this, it had already written an email to the World Health Organisation (WHO) asking for more information and understanding on the disease.
Later in the year, at the time when other countries were reporting advances in vaccine development, Chen Shih-chung, the health minister warned about the 'relaxed attitude' during the pre-vaccination period, stating that the world should not let its guard down otherwise it will lead to another peak in the pandemic.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen had urged the citizens to adhere to the protocols to protect the country from the outbreak and ensure steady economic growth. However, in the past few weeks, the island nation has flagged a surge in the number of cases and is reportedly heading to Level 3 to check the spread.
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