Analysis: Taiwan put lessons it learned during the 2003 SARS outbreak to good use, and this time its government and people were prepared.
TAIPEI, Taiwan — As countries around the world grapple with the coronavirus, Taiwan may offer valuable lessons on how to curb its spread.
The island is just 81 miles and a short flight away from mainland China, where COVID-19 is believed to have originated in the city of Wuhan. As the outbreak took hold in January, many Taiwanese business people and their families based in China were returning to celebrate the Lunar New Year, and up to 2,000 Chinese tourists a day visited the island, potentially bringing the virus with them.
And yet, Taiwan has had only 50 cases of COVID-19 and one death as of Friday night — far fewer than China’s 80,824 cases and 3,189 deaths, a stark contrast even when taking into account the enormous population difference: Taiwan’s 23 million to China’s 1.4 billion. Taiwan’s numbers are also much lower than neighboring countries such as South Korea, which has had more than 7,900 cases, and Japan, with 675. It’s also faring better than countries much farther away from China, such as Italy, with more than 17,660 cases, and the United States, which had 2,167 cases as of Friday night.
Of the 100-plus countries and territories affected, Taiwan has the lowest incidence rate per capita — around 1 in every 500,000 people — for a place that is located so close to China and with so much travel to and from.
What lessons can Taiwan teach the world so other countries can stem the spread of the virus?