Taiwan official in Manila promotes ‘Taiwan model’ to combat virus

Taiwan Representative to the Philippines Michael Hsu (徐佩勇) (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan’s representative to the Philippines on Monday argued in an op-ed that Taiwan can provide a model for successfully controlling COVID-19 without a lockdown, as the Philippines prepares for a phased re-opening of its economy this week.

In the op-ed, which was published in the Philippine Star and Malaya Business Insight, Representative Michael Hsu (徐佩勇) detailed the public health and economic challenges the pandemic has posed to the international community.

In the Philippines’ case, Hsu wrote, President Rodrigo Duterte responded to a potentially severe outbreak by imposing a policy of “enhanced community quarantine” (ECQ) on the entire island of Luzon from March 16 to April 30.

Under the ECQ, the government implemented border control measures, social distancing, the closure of specified business sectors and the requirement to wear face masks in public, Hsu said.

Now, as the Philippines prepares for the phased lifting of the measures from May 1, Hsu argued that Taiwan can provide a model for containing COVID-19 without a lockdown.

After experiencing an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, Taiwan established the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) to better coordinate its response across government departments, Hsu said.

In the context of COVID-19, the CECC was activated on Jan. 20, and has helped the government quickly implement prevention measures, mobilize resources, trace contacts and monitor the outbreak using big data analysis, Hsu said.

Other factors in Taiwan’s success to date include its daily CECC press conferences, which raise public awareness, and Taiwan’s strong national health care system, according to Hsu.

Hsu also reiterated the government’s repeated call for Taiwan to be admitted into the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Let bayanihan spirit shine and include Taiwan in the WHO to achieve “Health for all”,” Hsu wrote, using a Tagalog word for “cooperative undertaking.”

As of Monday, the Philippines had reported 7,777 COVID-19 cases and 511 deaths from the disease, according to the Philippines Department of Health.

Taiwan, meanwhile, had reported 429 cases and six deaths as of Monday, according to the CECC.