As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread worldwide, leading to more lockdowns and curfews, Taiwan recently celebrated going through 200 days without domestic COVID-19 infections.
While most took to social media to congratulate the island nation on a job well done, not everyone saw Taiwan worthy of compliments.
Taiwan has been coronavirus-free for 200 days. It has had only 550 COVID-19 cases and 7 deaths.
How'd they do it? They believe in science. Testing, contact tracing, quarantining, distributing masks and guaranteeing health care to all. We should do the same.#MedicareForAll
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 29, 2020
Foreign media reporter, Kate Bevan, took a swing at Taiwan on Thursday, crediting the low virus cases as a result of the government’s “repressive and intrusive data-tracking regime.”
I'm really over hearing how brilliant Asian countries have been at containing Covid and "oh, we should follow their lead, we are really shit". Taiwan has imposed a really repressive, intrusive data tracking regime. We had a massive row over a much lower-key centralised approach https://t.co/R8hy9S8cYp
— Kate Bevan is still at home (@katebevan) October 29, 2020
The UK-based reporter wrote in a tweet that she was “over hearing how brilliant Asian countries have been containing COVID-19.”
Bevan claimed that Taiwan’s mandatory data-tracking system allows the government to get their hands on patients’ travel history, occupation, contact history and location of quarantine individuals, and added that this would “not fly, and rightfully so, in the UK.”
Bevan’s tweet immediately drew criticism from foreigners in Taiwan and Taiwanese abroad who flooded her comment section, refuting her accusations of the alleged “repression”.
The bureau chief for the Agence France-Presse (AFP, 法新社) in Taiwan, Jerome Taylor, responded to her tweet, suggesting she should “head to Taiwan, or South Korea, and see whether folks think that public health policies which avoided mass deaths & huge economic crises are “really repressive”.
I’m really over these kind of takes.
Head to Taiwan, or South Korea, and see whether folks think that public health policies which avoided mass deaths & huge economic crises are “really repressive”.
Both are democracies. Folks could protest if they wanted to. They don’t. https://t.co/rtaZ5mDWF7
— Jerome Taylor (@JeromeTaylor) October 30, 2020
“Both are democracies. Folks could protest if they wanted to. They don’t,” he added.
Joshua Yang, a student previously studying Linguistics at the University of Melbourne, also shared his current quarantine experience in Taiwan.
I am currently in a hotel Quarantine in Taiwan so I'd share my experience. The airport offers 15-day SIMs so that this "repressive regime" sees that you stay in your quarantine location *for 15 days*. The location data shouldn't reveal any more information than what you reported. https://t.co/KKGqvCtSfd
— Joshua Yang (@joshiunn) October 30, 2020
He explained that upon arrival, officials at the airport offer 15-day SIM cards so as to ensure travelers’ quarantine locations.
Others also added that the SIM card was not renewable, and the data would be erased afterwards.
In addition, Yang pointed out that in Germany, customers are often requested to put down their names, phone number and address whenever they visit a restaurant, bar or café.
“If I am being tracked for 15 days in exchange for a COVID-free society that I get to enjoy later, I am quite okay with [that].” Yang said.
In response to others’ criticism claiming that Taiwan’s success lies in it being an island and having a mere 23 million population, foreigners in the US replied that if Taiwan were a state, it would be the third largest, and added that those states have an extremely higher amount of daily cases.
However, most of the replies under Bevan’s tweet pointed out that after taking in all the factors, the real reason behind the success of Taiwan’s virus-prevention was due to the government’s quick actions, citizens willingness to comply with face-mask-wearing regulations, and everyone’s respect for one another.