Taiwan’s long-standing success in resisting COVID-19 is driving a record rise in cases, complicating the island’s efforts to avoid becoming a pandemic hotspot. “We will loosen border controls in order to be on the same page as the global community and resume daily life,” Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said Monday.
In March, Taiwan began easing its strict restrictions on business travellers, allowing them access to the island. When visitors first arrived in the country, they were required to spend 10 days in quarantine in a hotel or other facility, which was reduced to seven days in early May.
94,855 new cases of Coronavirus were recorded on Friday, an all-time high, as a result of this reopening. The total number of tests has recently surpassed 2 million, which puts the country on par with Japan in terms of population size, although the testing methods used in the two countries differ greatly.
Following the lead of Thailand and Singapore, Taiwan has eased its coronavirus controls, reopening its borders. In the middle of 2021, the island was having difficulty obtaining vaccines; however, access has improved since then. According to official statistics, more than 99.7 percent of the COVID cases in the United States this year were mild or asymptomatic.
After two years of keeping the virus at bay, the question of what to do next is a difficult one.
As a result of the government’s efforts to keep people from venturing out, major thoroughfares in the capital have been relatively quiet, and restaurants often have empty tables. Real GDP growth for Taiwan has been lowered from 4.42 percent to 3.91 percent this year.
Although Taiwan’s economy relies heavily on the semiconductor industry, the resumption of business travel has been welcomed news for companies linked to the sector. Strong global demand has necessitated a steady stream of capital investment in this sector.
A Japanese chipmaker employee said, “It was hard to take business trips because of the quarantine measures, but there will probably be more from now on.”
Taipei’s handling of the pandemic has divided the public. Taiwan’s Public Opinion Foundation conducted a poll in the middle of May and found that citizens gave the government’s coronavirus response an average score of 59.5, a significant decrease from April’s 70.2 score. Although 27.7% rated it an 80 or higher, this was still the most popular rating.
As China deals with the fallout from its zero-COVID policy, Taiwan may be able to improve its global image if it can strike a balance between public health and economic and social requirements.