Mano Beridze, a Facebook user, published a post on May 18 claiming that 12 people died from the coronavirus in Taiwan, and that the country is not a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) and does not follow its protocols. The post creates a perception that the low number of deaths from the coronavirus was due to the fact that the country does not follow the WHO protocols.
The post by Mano Beridze is manipulative. Although Taiwan is not a member of the WHO, the regulations in the country are similar to the ones introduced by the WHO member states. Like many other countries, Taiwan launched vaccinations in March using AstraZeneca vaccine. Moreover, early actions are one of the reasons for Taiwan’s successful handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Although the coronavirus cases sharply increased in Taiwan in May 2021, it remains one of the most successful countries in terms of handling the pandemic. As of May 21, there were only 3,139 confirmed coronavirus cases and 15 deaths in Taiwan.
Restrictions in Taiwan are similar to those in the WHO member states.
Mano Beridze’s post creates a perception that Taiwan successfully handled the pandemic because it is not a WHO member and does not follow its protocols. This is a manipulation of information, as regulations in Taiwan are not significantly different from those in the WHO member states.
According to the website of Taiwan Centers for Disease Control, wearing a mask has been mandatory in places of high infection risk since December 1, 2020. Closed spaces and transport are considered places of high risk.
The Centers also call on citizens to socially distance – with the distance being 1.5 meters in closed spaces and 1 meter in open spaces. People with high body temperature or symptoms of a respiratory disease are advised to stay home. Sanitizing customers’ hands is mandatory – for example, while entering restaurants.
Taiwan Centers for Disease Control also touch upon the issue of mass gatherings. On their website, they mention that the guideline has been written in accordance with a documentation issued by the WHO about COVID-19.
Like many other countries around the world, Taiwan received its first 117,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine on March 3 and launched the vaccination process. The Government of Taiwan has already signed agreements on purchasing vaccines. It aims to purchase at least 10 million doses of AstraZeneca, 5 million doses of Moderna, and 4.76 million other vaccines – with the latter being unspecified in terms of brands. Taiwan will purchase the vaccines under the COVAX program, managed by the WHO.
Taiwan’s successful handling of the pandemic is due to rapid and timely measures.
On December 31, 2019, after the Government of Taiwan received information about the virus from Wuhan, they warned the WHO that the virus could be transmitted human-to-human. Taiwan did not receive a response from the WHO. Until January 21, the organization supported the position of China which claimed that the virus was not transmitted human-to-human.
Taiwan adopted strong measures and started active testing, contact tracing, and quarantining. Besides the quick adoption of the measures, technology, big data, and citizen engagement played an important role at an early stage of the pandemic too.
In his May 2020 interview with Think Global Health, the Foreign Minister of Taiwan, Jaushieh Joseph Wu, stated that due to the experience of fighting SARS in 2003, the Government of Taiwan started checking passengers onboard from Wuhan – soon followed by border control – because SARS-like atypical pneumonia cases were spreading in Wuhan.
On April 6, 2021, a new study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine journal about Taiwan’s anti-pandemic measures. Citizens were simultaneously tested and isolated in Taiwan. In the United Kingdom, for example, a delay between testing, getting results, and isolating decreased the efficiency of the measures. Taiwan (officially the Republic of China), could not attend WHO meetings and briefings during the coronavirus pandemic because it is not a member state. Even though the country expresses its readiness to join the organization, it is getting rejected due to tight and complex relations with China. Moreover, only United Nations member states can join the WHO.
Archive link: Mano Beridze
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