This post was started on Monday but I’m only finishing it now.
On May 14, Taiwan closed down all schools for two weeks (public and private) along with all public places where people gathered. No pools, no libraries, no entertainment venues, and all restaurants are take out only. Due to the increase in cases to 400 positive tests per day, closures have been extended to June 14th. The numbers have levelled off in the past week and (I hope) will start to decline.
As mentioned elsewhere, the cause of the spread was pilots and wealthy people assuming they were exempt from quarantine and social distancing rules (having large dinner parties together). It’s also due to “tea house hostesses” (sex work related businesses) visited by those wealthy men. Dozens of the women working in those places have disappeared after testing positive.
The most galling part is the failure of hospitals. ALL people in Taiwan, citizens and foreigners, have ID cards, even if they don’t have medical system cards. And yet some hospitals doing COVID-19 tests were letting people write down contact information instead of checking IDs. Some people who tested positive gave fake names and numbers. It’s a damning statement when (before they were ordered to close) night clubs were doing a better job of checking and photographing ID cards at the door than are the hospitals.
I have to wonder why the government didn’t go for a full two or three week lockdown and go around to test all neighborhoods. Shut down everything. It would be far more effective than partial closures which (as we’ve seen in the US and elsewhere) people start rebelling against.
What about people who now have no income for over a month and this turns into two months or three? There is a provision for unemployment benefits that even I am eligible for, not just citizens. But depending on the person, their income and a variety of factors, people could be broke within weeks. Myself, I could theoretically go several months without working (as long as my work and residency visa isn’t voided) but I would rather not.
Vaccines are finally starting to come in, but they won’t be distributed soon enough. Taiwan has directly accused China of blocking Taiwan’s attempts to acquire vaccines. Given China’s blocking of Taiwan’s participation in the WHO, WHA and other harassment and intimidation (e.g. Chinese fighter jets have invaded Taiwan’s airspace multiple times), I know who gets the benefit of the doubt in this war of words.
Taiwan has directly accused China for the first time of blocking a deal with Pfizer-BioNTech for COVID-19 vaccines, in an escalating war of words after Beijing offered the German-made mRNA shots to the island via a Chinese company.
Taiwan has millions of vaccine doses on order from AstraZeneca and Moderna, but has received only slightly more than 700,000 to date, and has only been able to vaccinate about 1 per cent of its population as coronavirus cases surge.
The locally made Medigen vaccine can’t arrive soon enough.
On the bright side, people in my neighborhood keep daytime hours and there’s little traffic. Air pollution is already lowest between 1AM and 6AM, and with no cars, it’s even lower than usual. The roads are empty so I’ve started riding at night. Cops patrolling the streets have seen me riding but never stopped me since I’m always wearing a mask.
The gyms are closed and use of fitness equipment in public parks is banned to prevent the spread, but kilometres of road are open and stretch resistance bands work inside my apartment. Maybe I’ll come out of this physically fit and down a few kilos.