Taiwan Reacted on Coronavirus Before China

The first news about a mysterious illness in Wuhan started emerging in December 2019. Taiwan and other Asian countries were impacted by SARS in 2003 acted first. Those countries had measures built and ready and had activation on hair-triggers. China went full Wuhan containment Jan 23 and became open an on alert Jan 20.

China’s leadership was in denial for about three to five weeks. People can rightfully complain about China being in denial up to Jan 20, 2020. However, if there was not full action by other countries after Jan 23, 2020 when Wuhan was locked down then that would not be on China. How could any message be more clear than 60 million people were in lockdown?

There was a trickle of info from December 2019 to Jan 19. If countries got a play by play would they have acted earlier? All people and countries had delays as those in denial became convinced. SARS impacted countries had vastly shorter in denial periods. It did not matter what the political system in a country was. It was when did people get past denial and move to acceptance and action.

The travel shutdowns started Jan 25-Jan 31 from Asian countries and then started in February partially with some flight cancellations. Trump’s travel ban of non-US citizens from China started Feb 1.

Taiwan started inspecting plane passengers coming from Wuhan starting Dec. 31, banning Wuhan residents on Jan. 23, suspending tours to China on Jan. 25, and eventually banning all Chinese visitors on Feb. 6.

The full timeline is on Wikipedia at this link.

Hong Kong and Singapore started their measures on Jan 4, 2020.

Bad relations between Taiwan and China helped Taiwan. China had banned tourists from China from going to Taiwan early in 2019.

JAMA -Response to COVID-19 in Taiwan Big Data Analytics, New Technology, and Proactive Testing.

Learning from Taiwan

Taiwan has a population of 23 million. 850 000 live in China and 404 000 work in China. In 2019, 2.71 million visitors from the mainland traveled to Taiwan. Taiwan has been on constant alert and ready to act on epidemics arising from China ever since the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003.

Taiwan used new technology, including QR code scanning and online reporting of travel history and health symptoms to classify travelers’ infectious risks based on-flight origin and travel history in the past 14 days. Persons with low risk (no travel to level 3 alert areas) were sent a health declaration border pass via SMS (short message service) messaging to their phones for faster immigration clearance; those with higher risk (recent travel to level 3 alert areas) were quarantined at home and tracked through their mobile phone to ensure that they remained at home during the incubation period.

Taiwan searched for patients with severe respiratory symptoms (based on information from the National Health Insurance [NHI] database) who had tested negative for influenza and retested them for COVID-19; 1 was found of 113 cases. The toll-free number 1922 served as a hotline for citizens to report suspicious symptoms or cases in themselves or others; as the disease progressed, this hotline has reached full capacity, so each major city was asked to create its own hotline as an alternative.

In 2004, the year after the SARS outbreak, the Taiwan government established the National Health Command Center (NHCC).

The government provided food, frequent health checks, and encouragement for those under quarantine.

Obviously, all countries need to have the command center, data systems and disease response of Taiwan. This will be needed now and in the months ahead. If COVID-19 is contained it will likely return as part of an annual disease season and there will be other diseases.

SOURCES- Wikipedia, JAMA
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

32 thoughts on “Taiwan Reacted on Coronavirus Before China”

  1. I have heard that some places are using >37.5, others >38.
    Both these are numbers used to check large crowds of people to select out those for more detailed medical checks. They don’t use the temperature as a diagnosis by itself.

  2. I don’t know enough about US law to say, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was illegal. If the US FDA has not approved something, then importing a bunch is against the law. (I suppose they could have stockpiled them in Guantanamo Bay)

  3. There is a large variability in symptoms, but in terms of temperature, the criterion I keep hearing is “above 38C”.

  4. It’s like dealing with a romantic partner. If you can’t tell what’s wrong by the exact angle of the head and a 1µ narrowing of the eyes then you are the one at fault.

  5. I am trying to find some more precise description of symptoms.
    Fever yes, but how much fever? 37,2 Celsius, 38, 39 ?
    I would appreciate answer or link to it.

  6. A criminal action. The American people are surely going to ask about that, the foot dragging on testing, the ‘everything is fine, there’s no issue’ stance and other issues. Botched, totally.

  7. And this is exactly the kind of thing a competent executive branch would have worked around by stockpiling some WHO kits just in case.

  8. There’s no excuse. Basic risk analysis should have led to buying test kits from the WHO and China just in case.

  9. “And one government agency enforcing a monopoly for another government agency means that this is a failure of free market capitalism. Somehow.”

    Obviously we need a third governmental agency.

  10. “I was slow in preventing the subcritical masses of Plutonium from coming together and bathing us in neutrons but you cannot misconstrue my action of forcing them apart.”

  11. Here’s the WHO’s Timeline:

    Dec 26, 2019, in Wuhan, Jixian Zhang notices a cluster of 4 anomalous cases of pneumonia, 3 within the same family, and reports them to the local CDC the next day.

    December 28, 2019. After Beijing pathologists confirm Dr. Zhang’s diagnosis, they report it to WHO.

    December 31, 2019 WHO reports this to the world.

    January 7, 2020 China identified the virus,

    January 12, 2020 the first 2019-nCov (later renamed to SARS-CoV-2) and by

    January 13, 2020 China made the first test kits available.

    Dr Bruce Aylward, head of the Who International Mission said,“In the face of a previously unknown disease, China has taken one of the most ancient approaches for infectious disease control and rolled out probably the most ambitious, and I would say, agile and aggressive disease containment effort in history. China took old-fashioned measures, like the national approach to hand-washing, the mask-wearing, the social distancing, the universal temperature monitoring. But then very quickly, as it started to evolve, the response started to change . . . So they refined the strategy as they moved forward, and this is an important aspect as we look to how we might use this going forward. WHO has been here from the start of this crisis, an epidemic, working every single day with the government of China… WHO was here from the beginning and never left. What’s different about this mission is it’s complementing with a lot of other external experts.”

  12. We are already moving to a system similar to the one in the link below that can track back infected people and warn people that came in contact with them to quarantine themselves. I cannot think of a more effective way to determine who needs to be isolated. There are only very few countries that have the capability to do that. Hopefully we will use it for good reasons. Obviously there is a need for a strong citizenry body to eversee how a system like this is being used. But on the other hand if such a monitoring system will prove itself, It can be used to control other spreadable infections, starting with the flu.


  13. The US used to have this kind of capability with the CDC and FEMA, before the agencies got their funding gutted and politicized. They used to be operated fairly independently, with career bureaucrats who stayed within the agency and weren’t moved every few years to some other non-relevant agency like most government employees. In many countries their equivalent agencies do not have the necessary independence to declare emergencies unilaterally, or agency internal career bureaucrats and core cadres of employees who have tons of experience and long histories, but instead are treated like other government offices with scheduled turnover/migration.

  14. CDC apparently stuffed up their test for boring, ordinary, production sometimes gets stuffed up type reasons.
    FDA made it illegal for anyone else to use a different test for long standing structural weaknesses that can be summed up as “if we approve something that turns out bad we get into trouble, if we don’t approve something that could have saved someone then nobody will know”.

    And one government agency enforcing a monopoly for another government agency means that this is a failure of free market capitalism. Somehow.

  15. China wasn’t in denial, they were actively burying the problem by telling doctors to shut up and telling other countries that no person to person spread was happening.

    The Taiwan model is to assume that China is a bad actor and to assume that they are covering things up. Taiwan doesn’t have the best relationship with the WHO (because of China) so they had to go on their own and rightly assumed a worst case scenario.

    Lessons learned:
    Don’t trust China to be honest
    Don’t trust China to stop a virus
    Don’t trust China to be part of your supply chain
    WHO will never bite the hand that feeds them
    EU loves the idea of open borders even when it is a really bad idea
    Nations really can’t afford to be best buddies with China- just means you get the virus first

  16. China is at the root of the world’s problem. That explains this huge retrograde propaganda effort to rewrite the sorry episode.

    Numbers out of China continue to be suspect.

  17. Like Brian said, if you had bothered to read the whole article, yes China took its time, and there’s rightful blame there. But their actions after cannot be misconstrued, “How could any message be more clear than 60 million people were in lockdown?”

    Testing screw up? Absolutely. If we had started testing here earlier, we could have prevented some infections. Somebody was more worried about the optics and the affect on future votes.

  18. 1.)China knew about the virus in November and we only found out because the doctors disobeyed party rule and let the nation and world know,

    2.) There is no way to avoid the infection. Once china fumbled and let it spread everywhere it was destined to become a world wide pandemic. Its just that contagious. YOU will eventually get it whether this week or next year.

    3) The testing was a massive screw up but then we didn’t have the time and we also have a Lot more people spread farther out than Korea or anyone else.
    Also one of the things that saved Korea and China was that in China they have no rights to they could get locked in their houses. And in Korea they could effectively institute Orwellian control and surveillance.

    We can do neither of these.

  19. Better yet, the administration should never have abolished that pandemic emergency response team. If they had been in place, and had given us a proper evaluation of what we were potentially facing, we might have avoided much of the infection of the last two months and gotten a good hold on this. They likely would’ve ordered testing before the date that China shut down that region.

  20. Perhaps that window of drastic action from January 20-23 should have been the trigger for other nations to quickly follow suit. Next time. Perhaps.

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