Aussie media interviews former CDC chief on Taiwan’s COVID-19 efforts

Su Ih-jen (蘇益仁) / CNA file photo

SYDNEY (CNA) — Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) and its sister newspaper The Age published an article on Taiwan’s efforts against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic Sunday based on an interview with Su Ih-jen (蘇益仁), former director-general of the country’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“The superpower [China] cannot be trusted, it is influencing the World Health Organization, and countries such as Australia must remain a step ahead of Beijing,” Su said in his interview with Eryk Bagshaw, who is an economics correspondent for the Australian media outlets.

Bagshaw’s article, titled “A population the same as Australia’s but a fraction of the coronavirus cases,” went on to point out how Su conducted annual rehearsals of a possible pandemic from China after the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 killed more than 20 percent of the people it infected in Taiwan.

The former director-general is also a distinguished investigator of infectious diseases at Taiwan’s National Health Research Institutes (NHRI).

Regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus, Su said Taiwan has always kept a step ahead of the information from China.

“When they say it seems to have human-to-human transmission, we have a sense that there must be a big human-to-human outbreak so we start ahead of the information,” he was quoted as saying in the report.

“That is why Western countries suffer so much, even in Europe and the United States. They don’t have the experience of Taiwan,” Su said, explaining that the country executed the response it had spent 17 years rehearsing.

Meanwhile, the report highlighted how Taiwan has been able to keep its infected cases low from the very start because it implemented a travel ban on China as early as January, before any other country.

According to media outlets, Australia has so far reported 6,322 COVID-19 cases, whereas Taiwan has 393.

“We are so close to China, Taiwan would be the first country suffering from any outbreak,” Su said, noting that the country conducts exercises relating to hospital and control measures once or twice a year, the main reason being that the earlier the better for such measures.