As many countries around the world experience second and third waves of COVID-19 infection, Taiwan, on Thursday, passed a record 200 days without seeing a locally transmitted case.
The island recorded its last local case on Apr. 12 and now holds the world’s best virus record, even exceeding other exemplary cases like Vietnam and New Zealand which were forced to deal with mysterious resurgences in August.
With a population of over 23 million residents, Taiwan confirmed fewer than 600 cases of infection and only seven deaths since its first registered case in January. While there are a few imported cases, there has been no second wave and life has largely returned to normal. Health and public safety measures remain in place but events like concerts and the upcoming Golden Horse Awards, the ‘Oscars’ of Chinese-language cinema, continue to take place. This, despite being only about 1,000 kilometers away from Wuhan, China, where COVID-19 originated.
Nearly half of the world’s new daily coronavirus cases are now coming from Europe, with the World Health Organization (WHO) warning on Wednesday that the region was “well behind” in its battle against the second wave of the coronavirus. France and Germany were thrust back into lockdowns and the United Kingdom reported a whopping 24,701 new cases of infection earlier this week.
Global observers and health experts attribute Taiwan’s COVID-19 response success to early preparations like border closures and travel restrictions, proactive leadership, and the willingness of the public to comply with all enforced virus prevention regulations. In 2003, Taiwan lost 73 lives to SARS — the highest mortality rate in the world from the virus. Since then, it has been preparing for the next big outbreak and rolled out its response as soon as the first cases of COVID-19 were discovered in Wuhan last December.
"Taiwan is the only major country that has so far been able to keep community transmission of COVID eliminated," infectious disease physician Peter Collignon, also a professor at the Australian National University Medical School, told Bloomberg. "[Taiwan] probably had the best result around the world.”