Why life in Taiwan is back to normal in the middle of the Corona Virus
Taiwan is getting back to normal life. The government, with extensive experience from the SARS epidemic, acted swiftly in the early days of the virus and got things quickly under control. The Taiwanese public, feeling secure in their Government’s handling of the virus, is back to work, out in public and going to events.
I took the picture above at a famous Tapiei night market, on Friday evening 28th February. Three weeks ago, the night markets were empty, there was noone on the trains and people stayed away from work.
Gradually though, life has returned to normal. People are wearing masks, and washing hands, but are out and about. It shows how life will be like when countries get a grip on the virus, know where people are who are infected, and are treating them well in a top class health system.
This is because Taiwan was badly hit during SARS. A lot of mistakes were made, and the government learnt from that time, so when Corona broke they were ready. They had action plans in place. A central co-ordinator was rapidly appointed, who made tough and fast decisions. Quarantine orders were in place quickly, flights from Wuhan cancelled straight away, and health instructions with mask distribution to the population implemented immediately.
While the West, with little experience of epidemics and SARS, acted slowly. Seeing this as a China or Asia problem, they thought they were immune. I posted a picture of me wearing a face mask in January on a flight to Asia, as I feared the worst, and people in the West thought I was insane. What was the point? Of course, globally Corona has proved to be far worse that most people predicted, but that is largely because of inaction and hubris on the part of Western governments, public and media, as Trump’s hoax statements have shown, and Boris Johnson’s slowness in reacting and reluctance to put emergency measures in place.
This is not the last epidemic we will see, and next time perhaps Western countries will be less complacent and better prepared. Taiwan and Singapore acted fast because they had plans in place set up after SARS. Now the West must put in place procedures to deal with epidemics, as they can come from anywhere and they can spread so quickly.
However, Taiwan and now Singapore are showing the light at the end of the tunnel. If governments act fast and get the situation under control, then the public will get back to normal life. While we may be wearing face masks much more in the future, life will go on.