People should not focus entirely on having zero new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Taiwan, but neglect overall control over the disease situation, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) specialist advisory panel convener Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) said yesterday.
Chang made the remark at a forum in Taipei discussing the steps Taiwan should take in the post-pandemic era, organized by the Chinese-language magazine Global Views Monthly.
Chang, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩), and Stanford University’s Center for Policy, Outcomes and Prevention director C. Jason Wang (王智弘) each made a presentation, followed by a panel discussion with Chang, Wang and Buddhist Tzu Chi University president Ingrid Y. Liu (劉怡均).
Photo: Chien Hui-ju, Taipei Times
“As people say: ‘No pain, no gain.’ We have suffered pain and have gained,” Chou said, adding that Taiwan had learned much from the SARS outbreak in 2003 and improved its disease prevention measures.
That included amending regulations to set up a more efficient and centralized disease control command system, enhancing infection controls at healthcare facilities and setting up a mask rationing policy, he said.
Taiwan acted fast to effectively block the virus through these mechanisms, as well as the use of smart technology, he added.
“However, the global COVID-19 situation is still severe, so the CECC is being very careful in easing border controls,” Chou said.
Until effective vaccines and drugs are developed, wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and practicing the “new disease prevention lifestyle” remain very important, he said, adding that the government also needs to consider its long-term investment strategy in the public health and healthcare sectors.
Chang said the CECC and advisory specialists acted rapidly and frequently discussed response measures from the early days of the pandemic.
They were prepared for possible local outbreaks, but the nation kept the disease situation under control much better than they had expected, he said.
He is thankful to healthcare workers who had to keep up with the rapidly changing policies, as well as for the cooperation of people and the private sector, Chang added.
About 1 million new confirmed cases were reported around the world in only four days, Chang said.
While Taiwan is relatively safe, it faces the challenge of how to interact with other nations for economic development while preventing the risk of a local outbreak, he said.
“If people always want to see zero new cases, then the government will not dare to ease [disease prevention] policies, but this might have a negative effect on the economy,” he said.
“We should not always have zero tolerance to new infections, or else the government cannot make any changes,” he added.
Posing a hypothetical question, Chang asked whether a doctor should be more focused on the overall well-being of a patient or getting perfect data values, and said that people should not be so concerned by a few new COVID-19 cases, which might indicate local infection, and cast doubt on the government’s overall disease prevention policy.
Asked about a Belgian COVID-19 patient who had been in Taiwan since May and tested positive last week, Chang said: “Theoretically, the possibility of him having contracted it in Taiwan is higher, but whether there are exceptions, we still need more information to tell.”
If disease prevention measures were to fail just because the nation does not conduct COVID-19 tests on all travelers within 14 days of their arrival in Taiwan, then the nation would have already lost control of the disease situation, he said.
Saying “never let a good crisis go to waste,” Wang added Taiwan has already shown the world that a democratic nation can effectively prevent a COVID-19 outbreak.
The nation should emerge from the crisis and become stronger, he said.
Wang proposed changing the slogan “Taiwan can help” to “Taiwan can lead,” and urged the nation to seize the opportunity to share its biotechnological innovations with the world, or even take the lead in developing new disease prevention technology.
A video of Taiwanese-American HIV/AIDS researcher David Ho’s (何大一) interview with Global Views Monthly was also screened at the forum, in which Ho said that people must realize that “if you don’t have public health, you’re not going to have economic health.”
FATAL FIRE: The health department is trying to contact the inspector who visited the site of the illegal nursing home to ask why they did not advise follow-up checks The Taipei City Government yesterday said that a health department inspector last year had visited the site of a long-term care facility in Neihu District (內湖) after receiving a report questioning its status. A fire broke out at the facility on Tuesday afternoon, killing three people. The Taipei Fire Department said that it received a report about a fire on the first floor of a four-story residential building on Kangning Road Sec. 1 at 2:38pm on Tuesday, firefighters arrived at 2:43pm and the fire was put out by 3:07pm. The firefighters found three men in beds and rushed them to hospital for
Taipei City Councilor Wang Hao (王浩) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Monday called for security improvements to the MRT, as fare evasion has increased more than 13-fold on the metropolitan railway system over the past five years. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has spoken out against fare evasion and other contraventions of MRT regulations, but since he took office in 2015 the number of contraventions has more than doubled, Wang said, adding that there were 537 cases in 2015 compared with 959 last year. A video was posted to YouTube in June showing people how to evade paying a fare,
FEELING MISUNDERSTOOD: Media speculation has fueled confusion about the KMT’s reasons for skipping a Chinese forum and delaying an AIT meeting, party sources said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Sunday said that it is not seeking to improve relations with the US or China at the expense of the other, and that its relations with the countries would be topic-based. The party has faced questions over its foreign policy after it on Monday last week announced its withdrawal from the annual Straits Forum and delayed planned talks with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). The party has also taken a tough stance on the importation of US meat containing ractopamine, while also lambasting China for increasing its military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait. Following
Yuchi Township (魚池) fishers have appealed to the Nantou County Government for help in dealing with an invasive fish species in Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), where it has devastated the local ecosystem. Fishers at Sun Moon Lake have been using electrofishing in an attempt to eliminate the giant snakehead fish — found in Africa and Southeast Asia — but they have struggled to keep up with the growing population of the species, which breeds during September and October, the county government said on Monday. The county has contacted researchers at National Tsing Hua University, saying it hoped they could come up