by Roger Bills
Perhaps the best time ever to tour Taiwan was early March this year, returning one day before the 14 day quarantine order! We had the place virtually, if not literally, to ourselves. Places where crowds were normally 10 deep with tourists were almost empty. Palaces and museums especially were crowd-free.
However, roadside eating and restaurants were well patronised by locals. So one might expect Taiwan to be riddled with free-floating viruses. Not so, in fact Taiwan with its population of close to that of Australia, in an area 1/215th that of the land of Oz, had fewer cases than, for instance, NSW.
As I write infection and death rates for the 2 countries are:
Taiwan:216 cases, 2 deaths.
Australia: 2317 cases, 10 deaths
Crikey, the good old Diamond Princess liner had a total 712 cases, 10 deaths
So we are entitled to ask, ”Why is this near China neighbour so much safer?”. The answer is twofold: Firstly, they were prepared, having learnt from the SARS outbreaking 2003. Secondly, they acted early and widely.
Everywhere we went our temperatures were measured, initially by people pointing little pistol-like thermometers at every forehead and later as technology jumped a generation, by automatic TV style screening of every person entering. And then there was sanitising spray on-hand everywhere. Every building was manned by temperature takers and hand sanitisers. Further, in our hotels, a cleaner was on constant duty disinfecting the lifts and entrances.
Clearly these proactive measures seem to have worked, given the infection and death rates above.
As a side comment, on arriving in Melbourne there were: No temperatures being monitored. No hand sanitisers anywhere. Let alone with a designated airport official. But there was a photocopied A4 sheet taped to a wall saying to use your facemask (which no-one had). From what we had become accustomed to, it was just slack. The big message from all this is that, as soon as it is possible, go visit Taiwan. It’s virally safer than home and the sooner you depart, the smaller the competing crowds.
Alternatively, tour Kangaroo Island now and stay tuned. Taiwan is likely to be on the Holiday Shorts program next January. Helen is already working on an exquisite presentation.