What's it like being in Taiwan during COVID-19?

I keep reading about how well they are doing over there, especially compared to the US and even better than South Korea and Singapore.

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Being in Taiwan during the coronavirus is surreal, especially seeing all of the news out there about how well Taiwan is doing handling the virus. Somehow I can’t imagine a developed country where people aren’t taking the same steps Taiwan has.

These are things like having my temperature taken at every shop, restaurant, and office building, having the same shop employees spraying my hands with sanitizer, and having to wear a mask whenever I take a bus or subway. None of it really feels inconvenient. It’s just a small price to pay to control the virus and be able to go outside.

But that’s just icing on the cake. The real effort is on Taiwanese government deploying a sophisticated tracking system using phone GPS’s to track quarantined people.

Just came back from a trip to Italy? That means two weeks quarantined at home. The police will call or show up to your house right away if you step out for cigarettes at the 7-Eleven. Then come the fines. 1 million NTD or USD 3,000 to pay for that pack of Marlboro Reds when they catch you. "Find and fine" is how they’ve been keeping people at home and it works.

Taiwan remembers the SARS1 epidemic in the early 2000s, so they aren’t taking any chances this time. It’s also helpful that this is a country full of engineers and tech people. The third thing is Taiwanese are generally law abiding and obedient. And health has always been a priority here, which explains why Taiwan has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. So when the government says stay home, nobody will be out on the street holding up a sign.

As of May 3rd, Taiwan has gone six days without any new infections. It's a huge victory to say the least. People are taking the masks off and public areas are going back to being crowded and busy, like they were in December. In the meantime, America and other so-called industrialized nations are falling deeper in despair. The news is saddening because if Taiwan can do it, other countries can too. China's pressure to exclude Taiwan in the WHO isn't helping, because at this point the world is losing out on Taiwan's pandemic expertise more than Taiwan is losing out on not being able to participate in the WHO.

I’m thankful for their incredible handling of the crisis. I hope the international community keeps recognizing Taiwan as a technology center for their efforts, and stunning results.

Me and some buddies chilling outside during a global pandemic.

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