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How much of a difference can 100 miles and effective social media surveillance make? A whole lot if you take Taiwan’s success against #COVID19 into consideration.
#Taiwan, is only around 100 miles away from the coast of south eastern China. The country has a lot of trade and exchange with #China and yet is at a healthily low 159th position when it comes to the COVID19 standings. Taiwan only has a paltry 455 cases and 7 deaths.
If someone were to place a bet on Taiwan having only 455 cases after 6 months of #COVID19, that too without nationwide lockdowns, that person would have become a billionaire now. #Taiwan owes its success to technology. Period.
How did #Taiwan know about the Pandemic before the world?

By now, we know that the outbreak in #Wuhan happened sometime in early December but was only out in the open in January, and countries around the world woke up to this danger only in February when Chinese citizens...
started returning from their visits to #China owing to lunar new year celebrations.

But, #Taiwan started its containment measures as early as December 31st.
This was purely possible owing to #Taiwan’s extensive surveillance of the happenings in #China, especially via their news organizations, social media, and other information sources.

Popular social media platforms in China like #Weibo and #WeChat proved to be an early source...
of alert for a pandemic that was brewing in Wuhan and thereabouts.

A senior government health officer by the name of Philip Lo, is said to have raised the first alarm in #Taiwan with regards to what was happening in China. It was he who came across a series of posts on...
...#PTT Bulletin Board System, which is a terminal-based bulletin board system based in #Taiwan, started in 1995. The posts had a compilation of text messages and social media entries that referred to an unknown strain of pneumonia spreading across #Wuhan.
Incidentally, one of the posts were written by the late Mr. #Li #Wenliang, a doctor based in #Wuhan who first shared his findings with his colleagues on WeChat and was wrongly implicated by the government as being a rumormonger.
He was arrested by the police and then released a few days later. He became a national hero soon after this but unfortunately died from #COVID19 later.
As soon as Mr. Philip Lo read these posts, he sent out emails to his counterparts in #Beijing...
...requesting for additional details on this. Later that day, Wuhan's health committee released a statement confirming around 27 people were infected with an unknown virus.

This was also the time that #Taiwan informed the #WHO of the events unfolding in Wuhan.
How did #Taiwan step up the preparedness?

As soon as Taiwan informed the WHO, the health department officials immediately turned their attention towards the flight schedules between #Wuhan & Taiwan. Hence, Taiwan started screening incoming passengers from Dec 31st, 2019!
Taiwan was the first nation to do this.
Taiwan health officials were also the first ones to visit Wuhan to learn more about the new disease, much earlier than even WHO officials. During this visit, they learned more about the disease and saw the severity of the situation at hand
#Taiwan’s CDC (Centers for Disease Control) setup a command centre on Jan 20th to monitor the spread of the virus in the country. They anticipated the heavy exchange of people traffic between #China and Taiwan owing to the oncoming Chinese New Year and hence suspended...
...all direct flights between Wuhan and #Taiwan.

Taiwan went a step ahead start of February when they banned all incoming passengers from China. Again, one of the first countries to do this.
Just to compare, the WHO only declared the spread of #COVID19 as a global emergency on Jan 31st. By this date, Taiwan had already shut its borders for people coming from China.
Taiwan’s effective use of Data and technology:

#Taiwan learned a lot from the SARS outbreak in 2003. They eventually had the 3rd highest number of SARS infections in the world. This experience greatly strengthened their infection and disease prevention measures.
Taiwan knew early on that unlike SARS, #COVID19 patients could be asymptomatic. This enabled them not to miss out on cases even if they did not show symptoms.
The NHCC (National Health Command Centre) acts as a disaster management agency that is used as a central command centre for such outbreaks. As soon as #Taiwan believed there was a crisis at hand in #Wuhan, they started with border controls with respect to air and sea.
#Taiwan used its national health insurance data and the immigration database to connect past travel with clinical visits to help alert officials of possible cases and trends early on. This greatly helped them to identify cases early by providing real-time alerts.
This was also made available to doctors and hospitals which enabled doctors to analyse patient symptoms taking into account their travel history. This helped in a more accurate diagnosis and treatment. This significance of all of this is that all these happened within March 2020.
This shows that #Taiwan had a huge lead over other countries In terms of preparation and understanding. No wonder they have fewer than 500 cases.

Mobile data (#triangulation method) was also extensively used to track and monitor clusters and people living in high risk areas.
This kind of monitoring and contact tracing was done without asking for additional user information (like location data) resulting in better standards of user privacy.
Information centres and toll free numbers were setup in each city to disseminate crucial pieces of information for #Taiwan citizens.

Medical masks and PPEs were produced in large masses by military personnel and the prices of the same were fixed beforehand... avoid black marketers and price hikes. The government also setup 60 production lines for masks and PPEs.
There was an online map API setup by a private citizen Howard Wu to indicate the availability of masks and PPEs across #Taiwan.
This was a crowd-sourced platform. Soon after, #AudreyTang, a self-taught technology expert in Taiwan and the Digital minister for #Taiwan, released NHI data about pharmacy locations, using which Mr. Wu was able to upgrade the API using Google Maps to show the locations...
... of pharmacies and whether they had mask stocks. This became a huge platform of collaboration between technologists and the government.

This ensured there was no panic buying and everyone could get their fair share of masks and accessories.
For this, the government invited research institutes and technical schools of #Taiwan to participate.
#Audrey is a transgender and has been described as one of the "Ten greats of Taiwanese computing personalities".

In August 2016, she was invited to join the #Taiwan Executive Yuan as a minister without a portfolio, making her the first transgender official...
in the top executive cabinet. She has been pioneering #Taiwan’s digital initiatives during this pandemic.

Since then, other Taiwanese technologists have created around 100 APIs, LINE chatbots, maps, and voice assistants to aid the fight against #COVID19.
#Taiwan also installed infrared thermal imaging scanning across all airports and ports by late February.

All this was done without severe, nationwide lockdowns. That is why Taiwan’s success story is even sweeter.

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