Containing COVID-19: the lessons from Taiwan, Singapore and HK

CNA file photo

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — Despite being the first cases outside of mainland China and initially reporting some of the highest cases across the globe, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong are now some of the safest places with 59, 226, and 149 cases, respectively.

Furthermore, the number of recovered patients has surpassed the number of active cases in Singapore and Hong Kong suggesting the outbreak is trending towards recovery.

At first, these three locations seemed dangerous as they quickly reported high numbers of cases, but this had to do with the widespread and efficient testing that identified those infected so authorities could contain the spread.

Many have also cited the centralized, “big-decision” response of Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong as essential to epidemic success. For example, all three banned flights from China (the biggest trading partner for each of them) before the CDC announced such actions were necessary.

In Taiwan, the government with its Central Epidemic Command Center immediately made important nationwide decisions such as forcing any school to shut down for 14 days if there is one coronavirus case and to shut down for the entire semester if there are 2 cases.

In Hong Kong, mass gatherings were banned which included schools, sports, and churches.

In Singapore, a S$1.3 billion Jobs Support Scheme will supply 8 percent cash grant of gross monthly wage to all local Singaporean employees for three months (based on reported wages of Oct-Dec 2020).

Singapore also announced a government co-funded Wage Credit Scheme in which all Singaporean employees earning up to S$ 5,000 will earn an extra 20% of their gross monthly wage.

These two economic schemes aim to ease public stress, ensure citizens follow safety measures rather than act out of economic desperation, and support the aviation, travel, and retail industries struck by the coronavirus.

A similar stimulus package of NT$2 billion was swiftly passed by Taiwan.

In Singapore and Taiwan, COVID-19 testing is free and coronavirus-related hospital stays are paid for. In Taiwan, quarantined citizens can receive free food and parents get paid leave if children show symptoms. In Hong Kong, hand sanitizer is free.