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How Taiwan is beating COVID

Fast responses and great tracking are key

In Chicago, we have signs on the highway that read 'If you've traveled here from a COVID hot spot, we recommend you quarantine for 14 days.' But there's really no measurements in place to insure that.

Taiwan is handling things a bit differently. Once we got off the plane, we headed straight to a special area where they confirmed you have a Taiwan-based phone number. If you don't, there are only two options: a vendor there will sell you a new SIM card that they'll set up, or you can rent a phone with a local number. Or you just don't enter.

Remember that online health declaration form I filled out before I left? It automatically texts you when you land with a link to finish it. There's a spot for that number there. They test it before you move on to the next section, put it in the form and bam! Your location is being tracked to insure you're not breaking quarantine and it keeps track of anyone you've been near in case they show an infection. You have to keep it on 24 hours a day and it must always be with you. Once you're past that, it's on to immigration who will want to see your test results. Taiwan has a 14 day quarantine policy, so it was off to a special hotel for me next. They don't allow you to take public transit- you have to take a cab or have a ride. On arrival at the hotel, you can't even enter the lobby! There's a special square on the ground you need to stand in, show them your declaration and results, and they send you straight up to your room. I've got other posts later about how the hotel stay has been (spoilers: the food is AH-MAZING!)

Day one, I got a call from the local police. They know I'm here and need my room number. They tell me a few regulations about what I can't do, ask me how I'm feeling and tell me we'll talk again. They've called a few more times each week since this.

I also get this text EVERY DAY at 10 am here in quarantine. Like that guy on 'Lost' who had to enter some random number into a machine each day while confined to a box, I press '1' each day like clockwork.

The hotel staff that brings my food 3 times a day wears full body Tyvek suits and face shields when they leave it (I saw one after he left one day.) The CECC will keep track of me for a week AFTER my quarantine is up to see how I'm doing, and then we're good. Taiwan has had just over 700 cases TOTAL in an island of nearly 23 million. So they're doing something right. The U.S. had 3000 deaths each day recently.

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