Taiwan reaches 200 days without nationally transmitted COVID-19 infection

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Taiwan hit 200 days without any nationally transmitted COVID-19 cases on Thursday, underscoring the island’s continued success in keeping the virus under control even as cases increase in other parts of the world.Taiwan’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) last reported a nationwide case on April 12. CDC officials noted the milestone and thanked the public for playing a role while urging people to continue to wear masks and wash their hands often.

Since the start of the pandemic, Taiwan has recorded 553 cases of COVID-19 and only seven deaths.

Although it has stopped national transmission, it continues to record new cases in people arriving from abroad.

Taiwan has been cited as a success in responding to the pandemic, particularly given its close trade and tourism ties with China, where the virus first emerged late last year.

Questions remain, however, as to whether the island is truly coronavirus-free. Local media paid particular attention to reports of people who tested positive for COVID-19 after leaving Taiwan.

Authorities said on Wednesday they had received a notice from Japanese and Thai health officials that three people who had recently left the island had tested positive.

Yet Taiwan is still unmistakably a success given the global scale of the pandemic – more than 44 million reported cases and 1.1 million deaths. Its success has been partly attributed to its very early action.

Taiwanese officials were screening passengers on flights from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the pandemic began, as early as Dec.31 for symptoms of fever and pneumonia, according to researchers writing in JAMA, a medical journal.

On January 20, the government officially launched the Outbreak Central Command Center to coordinate the government’s response among different departments and branches.

The government has also effectively communicated on the importance of wearing masks while trying to prevent panic buying and price gouging by rationing them.

The island also quickly tightened its borders, suspending flights from Wuhan on January 23 and barring the entry of Chinese nationals residing in Wuhan.

Taiwan has a strict 14-day quarantine for all arrivals, whether Taiwanese or foreign. Professionals with technical expertise led the response and messaging, such as former Taiwan Vice President Chen Chien-jen, who is a trained epidemiologist.

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