Countries That Contained COVID-19: New York Times

China reports new infections of COVID-19 have slowed with strict containment measures and travel restrictions. China also discouraged home quarantines and set up special monitoring locations. Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan have deep ties to China and prevented massive outbreaks without drastic shutdowns, explain Benjamin J. Cowling and Wey Wen Lim for the New York Times. The measures include a range of travel restrictions and quarantines for known cases along with public education programs encouraging vigilance on social distancing and good hygiene. Large public gatherings were banned with strategic screening stations and a mixture of school and workplace closures were scheduled. Some public health officials undertook intensive contact tracing. Testing and rapid delivery of results is key. “Each in its own way, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong – three places with markedly different socioeconomic and political features – have been able to interrupt the chain of the disease’s transmission,” the essay explains. Every measure carries costs. Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong had experience with SARs, and that helped with a speedy response and self-discipline. Ongoing vigilance may be necessary for months until a vaccine and treatments are developed. The new habits could improve overall health in multiple ways. – YaleGlobal

Countries That Contained COVID-19: New York Times

Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong report bringing COVID-19 outbreaks under control relatively quickly – without resorting to China’s draconian measures
Benjamin J. Cowling and Wey Wen Lim
Sunday, March 15, 2020

Read the article from the New York Times about strategies used to contain COVID-19 in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Benjamin J. Cowling is a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong. Wey Wen Lim is a graduate student in infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong.

	 Taiwan	0.2 US 1 Hong Kong	2 Singapore 3 China 6 Iran 14 S Korea 16 Italy 29

So many unknowns: Epidemiologists would caution that it is far too early to compare countries on COVID-19 rates – and many factors must be considered: countries vary on the types and availability of diagnostic tests, median age, diet, preferences on personal space and other customs – still, Taiwan’s rate is notably low (Source: New York Times and ncov2019.live site)

Taiwan health official screens a child for symptoms

(Source: EPA/EFE)

Taiwan’s Strategy on COVID-19

  • Set up a centralized command center to encourage rapid communications
  • Taiwan did not immediately ban travel from China
  • Taiwan integrated its national health insurance and immigration/customs databases to allow big data analytics, rapid case identification with real-time alerts
  • Quick Response code scanning and online reporting of travel history and health symptoms to classify risks based on travel history and flight origin
  • Establishment of a national toll-free hotline and then city hotlines to report symptoms of selves or others
  • In early January, with reports of new virus, health officers boarded incoming flights from Wuhan to screen travelers
  • Conducted comprehensive screening of travelers from suspect areas
  • With first imported case, suspended flights from Wuhan on January 21
  • By second week of February, banned flights from China except those from Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, and Chengdu
  • Relied on home quarantines, with some government quarantine facilities available
  • Enforced penalties against those breaking isolation orders, including fines of about $30,000
  • Organizers of mass gatherings, including religious services were encouraged to suspend services
  • Closed schools for two weeks after the Lunar New Year holiday
  • Controlled distribution of surgical masks with fixed prices
  • Health officials advising washing hands thoroughly, avoiding crowds and wearing masks when showing symptoms
  • Taiwan may be testing less than other locales
  • The median age in Taiwan is 42.5 years
  • Hospital bed density is 69.8 per 1000 people; Taiwan has fewer nurses and doctors per 1000 people than much of the developed world   
  • Diverse political parties developed programs together                          

(Source: Stanford University Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, World Bank, Statista, New York Times)

© 2020 The New York Times Company

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