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Taiwan reins in spread of coronavirus as other countries stumble


With some 850,000 Taiwanese living and dealing in China, Taiwan could are one amongst the toughest hit when the coronavirus outbreak emerged in late December in Wuhan, a central Chinese city of 11 million people and therefore the epicentre of the outbreak.

The timing would prove devastating for China and therefore the remainder of the planet, because the outbreak began to accelerate around Lunar New Year, a time when many various Chinese travel abroad or return home to determine their families.

But Taiwan, an island democracy with a population roughly the scale of Australia, has kept cases at a minimum of 45 and one death, whilst infection rates in China have topped 80,000 and therefore the virus has mushroomed in places like South Korea, Japan, Iran and Italy.

Taiwan's success thus far in handling the infection has largely been because of its action within the early stage of the contagion, in line with experts, even when the virus was still poorly understood and its transmission rate still unclear.

It also relied on historic experience instead of looking forward to cues from the planet Health Organization, which continues to deny Taiwan observer status for political reasons.

"Taiwan was hard hit by SARS and thereupon hard and bitter lesson Taiwan came very prepared," said Chunhuei Chi, a professor within the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University.

After the SARS epidemic, Taiwan established a central command centre for epidemics the subsequent year, keeping it some steps prior other places in Asia before coronavirus hit, Chi said.

The command centre made it easier for medical authorities to assemble data, redistribute resources, investigate potential cases and follow au fait their contact history, while they also were able to quickly isolate patients found to be carrying the virus.

Learning from SARS, Taiwan also quickly conducted health checks on passengers from Wuhan in early January, well before it had been understood that the virus could pass between humans.

'Super alert'
By the primary week of February, Taiwan began rationing surgical masks and restricting the entry of passengers with a travel history in China, while requiring a 14-day quarantine for those that travelled to Macau and city.

Hand sanitiser and fever checks became customary in many public buildings, while the Centers for Disease Control and other agencies issued daily itinerant alerts about the newest cases and data on the places they'd visited.

Jason Wang, the director of the middle for Policy, Outcomes and Prevention at university, said the Taiwanese government "was really super alert" in its response.

"When it became clear it had been visiting become a giant issue they began to do more. They were prepared."

Experts said Taiwan's success is resembling Singapore's, where coronavirus cases top 100, although early action has also kept it from spreading further despite its high-risk status as a significant Asian transit hub, and robust trade ties with China and city.

Learning from SARS, Singapore also took early action in imposing health checks before closing its borders in late January to most travellers from China, also as imposing heavy fines on anyone found violating self-quarantine orders, and shuttering schools and universities.

Both Taiwan and Singapore also offered large stimulus packages because the economy has lagged from the coronavirus and a loss of tourism from China.

In a piece of writing published within the News Lens, Roy Ngerng wrote that Taiwan's handling of the crisis was even "better than Singapore".

'Others slow to act'
While Taiwan and Singapore's leadership acted swiftly, other countries hit by the virus were either slower to act, or to be receptive the general public about possible risks.

"My impression is - [although] I'm at a ways - that the political leadership [in Singapore and Taiwan] took this queue and advice from the ministry of health from the scientists and therefore the clinicians. i believe that's a really good formula," said William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University.

He said places just like the US are slow to act.

Taiwan's actions contrast sharply with China's, where decisive action came only after the outbreak had already spread widely.

Japan and South Korea were also criticised for his or her response. Infections in both countries have now reached 1,045 and 6,767 respectively, as of Saturday.

Both countries saw a spike from an oversized group of individuals on board the Diamond Princess ocean liner, which was quarantined in Japan's Yokohama, and South Korea's Shincheonji Church of Jesus megachurch in February.

Virus still spreading
Critics say Japan's Shinzo Abe may are slow to retort as he was also preoccupied with preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in July and therefore the now-delayed visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in April.

South Korea's Moon Jae-in has also come under scrutiny as he downplayed the threat of coronavirus, saying that the worst seemed to be over in mid-February shortly before cases began to skyrocket.

As the coronavirus continues to spread east and west, many other countries are finding themselves unprepared to handle the sort of large-scale epidemic that has not been seen for many years.

In Iran, political infighting and restricted access to information are cited by experts as reasons why cases have now reached 4,744, with a minimum of 124 deaths, after the virus reportedly first broke call at the City of God of Qom.

Narimon Safavi, an Iranian-American entrepreneur and frequent commentator on Iran, said powerful conservative clerics prevented government health authorities from quarantining the town, or halting travel there, including from China.

Top leaders and regime insiders have also continued to travel Qom, a vital political and non secular centre, Safavi said, spreading the virus even among the Iranian elite, including Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi and an adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei.

Dilemma in Europe
In Italy, authorities were forced to scramble because the coronavirus spread rapidly across its northern towns. there have been a minimum of 4,646 cases and 197 deaths in Italy as of Saturday.

Europe's Schengen Treaty, however, presents several challenges to EU health authorities, because it guarantees the free movement of individuals, in line with Claire Standley, an assistant research professor at Georgetown University's Center for Global Health Science and Security.

Matthew Kavanagh, also a worldwide health expert at Georgetown University, added that several world leaders, including US President Donald Trump, have repeated the mistakes of their Asian counterparts.
"We had a chance to essentially robustly get out there rather than that specialize in the likelihood there was a pestilence within the US. Instead, Trump focused on a policy that was purely containment - keeping it out of the US through travel bans and quarantine," Kavanagh said.

Delayed action from the US and far of Europe means effective but laborious options that were available to Taiwan and Singapore, like isolating anyone in-tuned with the virus, are not any longer available because it is already spreading through community infection.

The US Congress's emergency $8.3bn coronavirus fund will should attend initiatives like rapid testing to assess how far the virus has already spread, public information campaigns, and offsetting economic losses as large scale gatherings and events are cancelled.

'Community spread is happening'
"At this time in China, in Italy, in South Korea and within the US, we are going in an area where community spread is going on, which implies you cannot quarantine all the people, you cannot stop things through a travel ban," Kavanagh said.

As new challenges from the coronavirus still emerge and community infections settle, political leaders who have struggled to act quickly to contain the virus could face more trouble ahead.

In South Korea, quite 1.5 million people have signed a petition calling for Moon to resign, while Japan's Abe continues to fall within the polls, dropping eight points to 41 percent approval in February, in line with Kyodo agency.

US President Trump, who has faced several concurrent political scandals, could also face more serious questions about his handling of the crisis, threatening his bid for a second term in November.

Commentators say even Iran's seemingly impenetrable leadership is vulnerable, while China's all-powerful party has also been forced to permit some public criticism for its initial mishandling of the outbreak.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, who was re-elected by a landslide in January, may find that whilst the island remains isolated from the planet Health Organization, it should emerge collectively of coronavirus's few victors.

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