Research Note: Lessons from Abroad: Taiwan's Covid-19 Containment Model

Research Note
12 May, 2020

Alongside South Korea, Taiwan is one of the few countries to “flatten the curve” of Covid-19 without a national lockdown due to its prior experience with the SARS epidemic of 2003. New Zealand’s pathway is similar to Taiwan’s and there are lessons to be learned as New Zealand moves into Alert Level 2. Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters suggested creating “international bubbles” for countries with Covid-19 success to introduce new trade connections and travel links. His reasoning is that direct inbound travel to New Zealand from Taiwan cannot be riskier than travel within New Zealand at this point.

As of May 11, Taiwan is 53 days into its Covid-19 response compared to New Zealand's 49 days (measured by the date of the first 100 cases). Judging by cumulative cases per capita (see figures 1 and 2), New Zealand has 24.8 cases per 100,000 while Taiwan only has 1.9 cases per 100,000. 

In early January, when the first outbreak began in Wuhan, Taiwanese Professor Dr Jason Wang from Stanford University predicted Taiwan would have the highest number of cases outside mainland China.1 As of May 10, Taiwan only has 73 active cases and 366 recoveries from a total of 438 confirmed cases.2 It also has a low case fatality rate (CFR) of 1.3% or 1.36% deaths. Italy, Spain, the US and New Zealand have CFRs of 13.9%, 10.1%, 5.9% and 1.4%, respectively.

The Taiwanese Government dealt with the initial rise in cases while maintaining an open economy by using optimal border controls, strict quarantine requirements, targeted testing measures, an advanced national healthcare system, effective contact tracing system, maskwearing public policy, tight enforcement of new Covid-19 rules and general government competence.

This report outlines eleven key examples of Taiwan’s pandemic approach.

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