Analysis | What can we expect from a winter COVID-19 second wave in Taiwan?

March 2020. Volunteers take the temperature and sanitise the students' hands at the school entrance. (Photo courtesy of Saloni Meghnani)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Students across the world are experiencing a range of situations as their schools tackle the pandemic.

U.S. Universities are attempting to balance online and in-class learning, while education institutes are closed in India. Schools in Taiwan, on the other hand, commenced the new academic year without any issues.

The rigorous safety measures that Taiwan enforced in its educational system allowed it to maintain a hygienic environment keeping the virus from spreading. The island’s population has long returned to their routine lives and the pandemic isn’t a worry at all.

Does Overconfidence Equate to Carelessness?

Taiwan experienced a surge in public trust, according to a poll, 91 percent of respondents are satisfied with the head of the Central Epidemic Command Center. They don’t believe that they will be hit with a second wave of the pandemic and have strong faith in their government.

Students aren’t required to wear masks as classes returned to normal during the first week of school in September 2020. (Photo courtesy of Saloni Meghnani)

The island’s authorities advise citizens to maintain social distancing and the new norm of mask-wearing. Basking in their success of containing the virus, Taiwan’s government much like New Zealand or Australia is confident in returning to regularity.

Unfortunately for New Zealand and Australia establishing a travel bubble and eventually a corridor led to a rude awakening when it resulted in a new outbreak of cases. These countries had to go into lockdown for the second time when the virus escaped Melbourne hotels and reappeared in Auckland as well.

Unforeseeable Future with a Possibility of Few Cases

Taiwan’s government is sharing its expertise and strategies with other nations but this could be a valuable lesson from its Pacific neighbors to stay cautious and wary. Without extra precaution and implementing the same meticulous measures as they did earlier this year, Taiwan’s government is beginning to let their guard down.

Students attend class at a university in Taipei. (Photo courtesy of Saloni Meghnani)

By easing border restrictions and allowing students to fly in and out, they are putting their reputation and safety at risk. There is no concrete study as to how much of a threat traveling is, but Taiwan is an island and their only safety net is its geographical advantage of being an island.

The public should remain wary as well, even though masks are required in 8 specific venues by the government, people are still untroubled by the prospect of a new wave. In fact, this prospect is entirely alien to them.

Education institutes are urged by the government’s policy to require mask-wearing on campus. But it seems as though the fear of an outbreak is nonexistent, so much so that some universities do not require temperature checking or hand sanitizing at entrances to buildings.

Authorities are carefree yet self-assured in their performance and enjoy the praises that the international community sings of Taiwan. Yet, letting their guard down just like Australia or New Zealand and hastily reopening borders could have unforeseen long term risks.

Pandemic Residue and Preventative Measures

Australia went into lockdown once more when cases were unveiled in their hotels from people who had recently traveled. Taiwan is on the same tangent, but its systematic and logical approach to containing the first wave has proven successful.

Taiwan must remain observant and ensure that their moments of pride aren’t sabotaging the technicalities of epidemic prevention. Covid-19 is still harming millions of people and until Taiwan’s government can prove beyond doubt that such fastidious measures are no longer required, everyone should remain vigilant.

 

 


Saloni Meghnani is a student working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication in Taiwan. She grew up in Taipei and attended an international school. Saloni is an avid reader and is passionate about writing. Her upbringing as a third culture child gives her a unique perspective on her coverage of socio-economic issues in Asia.