When the Coronavirus disrupted the world, Taiwan was expected to be severely affected considering its close proximity to Mainland China. A significant population from Taiwan, around 400K of 23 million, works in China, and over a couple of millions from China visit the country regularly as tourists. A massive outbreak in Taiwan seemed inevitable.
Yet, Taiwan has recorded very few cases - 451 positives with 7 deaths as of July 2020 - significantly lower compared to other countries.
How did Taiwan do this?
Learning from past, quick decisions, & technology-driven strategy.
Taiwan has been able to draw from its experience of the SARS epidemic of 2002. The country had the highest mortality rate in the world with 30+ deaths in the SARS outbreak. With great effort, SARS was finally controlled.
Taiwan was the one of the first countries to activate epidemic prevention measures against COVID-19 leveraging technology. Early on, government instructed people to wear face masks and authorities started tracking and monitoring movements of patients at hospitals. Temperature checks were enabled and a 14-day quarantine was strictly imposed, which was timely and critical.
Technology and Big Data along with artificial intelligence (AI) played an important part in tracking and tracing COVID-19 spread.
Usage of Big Data Analytics for mapping COVID-19 suspects and tracking their origins was a crucial step towards halting major escalation in the country during the early stages. Taiwan’s National Health Insurance (NHI) was connected with immigration and customs data server.
This move was advantageous for customs and immigration department in Taiwan to closely monitor travel and make a data-driven decision on origin of flights and travellers, which classified travellers’ exposure risk.
Datasets of incoming travellers to Taiwan was built using mobile technology: QR code was implemented for this specific challenge. Travellers were asked to scan QR code on arrival at the airport and declare their status including symptoms and contact details.
Technology was used in a multi-pronged approach, and local clinics and pharmacies were connected to the garnered information. This helped health officials to monitor all the triggers in real time. Travel histories and clinical symptoms were used to diagnose and treat the suspects accordingly.
Some of the steps that powered their fight against the pandemic included:
- Suspects based on symptoms were asked to opt for house isolation – mobile phone tracking their location played a crucial role in enforcing the curb on their movement.
- Availability of critical supplies including masks was managed by using technology to detect and control shortages across country. This helped in optimal rationing of the supplies.
- AI, Data Analytics and Digital Communication was used for accurate public information. Along with daily press conferences and open government data, Taiwan used digital tools like social media - Facebook, Line and YouTube to reach out to the public. Government closely monitored and controlled fake news by creating groups to fact-check and correct the misinformation.
- Local clinics and pharmacies were asked to keep track on the updates in the system to make sure community transmission is controlled and they were shared with real time updates from NHI server.
- Taiwan has managed to control and slow the spread of COVID-19 and is sharing this knowledge of the best practices with other countries.
The emerging prospects & landscape
The successful fight against COVID-19 has brought in Taiwan the reputation of being a resilient country. With Taiwan demonstrating its capabilities in controlling the pandemic, other countries are looking at Taiwan as a safe and secure place for their business and have relocated larger teams from other countries.
Wipro has been closely working with industry leading R&D organizations and Tier one OEM and ODM companies in Taiwan. The current global scenario of trade war between china and USA has given a positive traction for many companies moving out of China and relocate to Taiwan. We expect to see phenomenal growth in sectors like Semiconductor, Microelectronics (fabrication plants and foundries), Automotive, Healthcare, and Energy & Utilities. Recognizing the potential, Wipro is investing in right partnerships and expanding the infrastructure to support the growth in the region.
Taiwan has battled COVID-19 with utmost preparedness and public transparency, with a strong focus on fostering global health security. Can we learn from this country’s futuristic digital infrastructure - a robust and resilient model for a better future? Share your thoughts with me at Dan.Murthy@wipro.com