THE coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which was first identified in Wuhan, China, has already resulted in over 2.7 million confirmed cases and has killed more than 190,000 individuals worldwide, affecting 185 countries as of April 24, 2020. The pandemic is undoubtedly one of the most devastating global crises of the 21st century and has brought about serious challenges to the international community, including Taiwan and the Philippines.
In response to the severe situation and to effectively control the spread of the virus, President Rodrigo Duterte imposed the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) on the entire island of Luzon from March 16 to April 30, 2020. Under the ECQ, the Philippines implemented strict measures, such as border control, social distancing, suspension of work and businesses, the requirement to wear face masks in public places to ensure the safety of its citizens and to combat the global pandemic.
When the ECQ is lifted, we are concerned about how to face a “new normal.” In this difficult time, as the closest neighbor of the Philippines, people in Taiwan would like to share with our Filipino brothers and sisters how Taiwan contained the spread of COVID-19 without a lockdown.
The government of Taiwan learned from its 2003 SARS experience and established the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) to enforce better coordination across government departments. Taiwan’s CDC activated the CECC on 20 January 2020, and afterwards the CECC took quick and decisive actions including early prevention measures, fast mobilization of necessary resources, strict monitoring and border control, efficient tracing, and the use of big data analysis.
Furthermore, under the leadership of President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan proactively responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 press briefing is held every day. Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung provides up-to-date information to raise public awareness for Taiwan’s citizens, including where and when people should wear face masks as well as how to wash hands correctly, etc.
Taiwan’s top health care systems, strong research capabilities, transparent information, people’s trust and confidence in government, as well as the competent leaders at both the national and local levels, have all contributed to the success of the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 is a humanitarian disaster that requires the joint efforts of all countries. Taiwan is willing and prepared to share its experiences with the world. Bringing Taiwan into the global public system would allow Taiwan to make substantial contributions, not only to guarantee the right to health of its 23 million people, but also yield benefits for the global fight against coronavirus.
Taiwan is willing and looking to continue working with bilateral and multilateral partners—including the World Health Organization (WHO)—to defend global health and stop the continued spread of this pandemic. Taiwan once again calls on the WHO Secretariat to cast aside political considerations, abide by the WHO Charter’s call to work for the highest attainable standard of human health, and bring Taiwan to fully participate in its meetings, mechanisms, and activities.
On behalf of the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan), Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines donated 300,000 medical masks to the Philippines on 15 April 2020. I have been overwhelmed by the very warm and touching feedback from our Filipino brothers and sisters which we received through our social media.
Let bayanihan spirit shine and include Taiwan in the WHO to achieve “Health for all.”
PEIYUNG HSU, Representative, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines