The threat that emerging infectious diseases pose to global health and the economy, trade, and tourism never ceases. Pandemics can spread rapidly around the world due to international aviation and transport. As of March 2021, a novel form of pneumonia that first emerged in Wuhan, China at the end of 2019 and has since been classified as coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) has caused more than 126 million cases and more than 2.7 million deaths worldwide.
The disease has had an enormous medical, economic, and social impact around the world, and significantly threatened global efforts to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Due to its proximity to China, Taiwan had been expected to be one of the countries most severely affected by the epidemic. But given its experience of fighting the 2003 SARS outbreak, Taiwan did not ignore the alarms, piecing together evolving official and unofficial accounts to form a picture of the emerging disease that implied scope and severity worse than the global public perception suggested. Authorities used this information to launch enhanced monitoring on Dec. 31, 2019, and have tirelessly implemented public health containment measures since Taiwan’s first case was detected on Jan. 21, 2020.
As of April 22, 2021, there had been 1,086 confirmed cases, including 11 deaths, in Taiwan. Life and work have continued much as normal for the majority of the population. Taiwan has contained Covid-19 ever since the beginning of the pandemic, including a record 253 days without any cases of domestic transmission between April and December 2020.
After dealing with SARS, Taiwan established a nationwide infectious disease healthcare network that is led and overseen by infectious disease experts across six regions. More than 100 secondary response hospitals are included in the network and all 22 special municipali