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Since the start of the pandemic Taiwan has recorded 553 cases of Covid-19. Photo: AP

Coronavirus: Taiwan marks 200 days without a domestic infection

  • Island has reported 553 cases and seven deaths since the start of the pandemic
  • But questions remain as to whether Taiwan is truly free of the pathogen
Taiwan hit 200 days without any domestically transmitted cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, highlighting its continued success at keeping the virus under control even as case numbers surge in other parts of the world.

Taiwan’s Centre for Disease Control, which last reported a domestic case on April 12, noted the milestone and thanked the public for playing a role, while urging people to continue to wear masks and to wash their hands often.

Since the start of the pandemic Taiwan has recorded 553 cases of Covid-19 and seven deaths. While it has stopped domestic transmission, it continues to record new cases in people arriving from abroad.

The island has been pointed to as a success story in how to respond to the pandemic, especially considering its close business and tourism ties with mainland China, where the virus was first identified late last year.

Taiwan’s Centre for Disease Control has urged people to continue to wear masks and wash their hands often. Photo: AP

Questions remain, however, as to whether Taiwan is truly free of the coronavirus. Local media have been paying close attention to reports of people who tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Taiwan.

Authorities said on Wednesday that they received notice from Japanese and Thai health authorities that three people who had recently left the island tested positive.

Yet Taiwan is still a success in light of the global scale of the pandemic, which has killed more than 1.1 million people. Its success has in part been attributed to acting very early on.

Taiwanese officials were checking passengers on flights from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the pandemic began, as early as December 31 for fever and pneumonia symptoms, according to researchers writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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On January 20, the government formally initiated the Central Epidemic Command Centre to coordinate different departments and branches. It also communicated effectively about the importance of wearing masks, while trying to prevent panic buying and price gouging by rationing them.

The island was also quick to tighten its borders, suspending flights from Wuhan on January 23 and banning the entry of Chinese nationals who live in Wuhan.

Taiwan has a strict 14-day quarantine for all arrivals, whether Taiwanese or foreign.

Professionals with technical expertise led the response and messaging, such as Taiwan’s former vice-president Chen Chien-jen, who is a trained epidemiologist.