Passive Response the Greatest Failure in Taiwan's Epidemic Prevention Strategy
China Times, June 27, 2021
It was officially announced that the disheartening Delta virus variant has intruded Taiwan, but the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) only consoled the public that in the previous week, that there were only five confirmed cases of Delta variant imported from abroad. In just a week, the virus has saw 10 confirmed cases in the country. People are panicking about its high speed of spreading. What is more worrying is that the CECC announced on June 27 that the inbound travelers from seven high-risk countries such as India, Israel, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom will be quarantined and checked in a centralized facility after arrival.
According to Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom of the World Health Organization, the Delta virus variant, which was first discovered in India, has become the fastest spread variant virus so far and has dispersed to at least 85 countries. Taiwan’s new measures only strictly guard against inbound travelers from seven countries. Can the virus be fully blocked from abroad?
The confirmed Delta variant found in Pingtung in southern Taiwan is linked to an old man and his grandson who returned from Peru and tested positive for the virus. They suffered the onset of symptoms on June 11, and in half a month have since spread to 10 neighbors, friends and a taxi driver. Obviously, the virus variant may have penetrated into the community long ago. In addition, have all the passengers and crew members traveling with the old man and his grandson been framed for quarantine so as to stop the virus transmission?
The most frightening thing about the Delta variant is that it spreads 60 percent faster than the alpha variant, and there are 10 variants of it. Take Israel for instance, though the vaccination rate has exceeded 65 percent of the population, it still cannot stop the assault of the Delta variant. Sydney, Australia, yesterday announced the city will be closed for 14 days, exemplifying that due to the continuous mutation of the new crown virus, the available vaccines cannot completely prevent people from being infected. Therefore, countries have begun to evaluate and plan to implement the third dose of vaccine, and adopt more vigorous control measures.
Compared to the active deployment of other countries, Taiwan not only has insufficient supply of vaccines, but also has a rate of vaccination of less than 10 percent. Our strategies to prevent the entry and spread of the virus are slow, and we are not even willing to impose generalized screening for all international travelers. Just as Mayor Hou You-yi of New Taipei stated yesterday, he actively suggested last year that inbound travelers should be widely screened, but he received cold shoulders from the Office of the President and Executive Yuan, some elected officials have gone so as to say he was causing social chaos. Our newspaper also made the same appeal at the beginning of last year. The CECC mocked us that the suggestion means spending NT$800 million (about US$28.6 million) only to find 12,000 false-positive cases. In the face of surging Delta, the CECC’s strategy is still mending the current loopholes but not prearrangements.