Taiwan detects first case of Covid-19

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Taiwan has recorded its first locally transmitted case of coronavirus since April 2020 in more than 250 days. The island has had one of the most successful pandemic responses in the world, underscoring the difficulties in controlling the virus even in areas where it has been largely stamped out.

“A woman in her 30s was infected after having contact with a foreign pilot, who also tested positive for the virus, between December 8 and 12,” a statement was issued by the health ministry on Tuesday

Taiwan has been coronavirus free since April 12, only recording imported cases. Passengers arriving on the island must go into quarantine and those who test positive are isolated and given treatment. Three such imported cases were also recorded Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases on Taiwan since the pandemic began to 770.

A democratically ruled island of 23 million off the coast of China, Taiwan has been seen as a global leader for its effective response to the coronavirus.

The official Taiwanese Government Authorities ruled out the screening of passengers on direct flights from Wuhan, where the virus was first identified, on December 31, 2019.

The first case in Taiwan was reported on January 21, after which the Wuhan residents were banned  from traveling to the island. All passengers arriving from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao were required to undergo screening.

All this happened before Wuhan itself went into lockdown on January 23. By March, Taiwan had banned all foreign nationals from entering the island, apart from diplomats, residents and those with special entry visas.

At the same time, track and trace programs and widespread testing enabled Taiwanese authorities to effectively control the local epidemic and treat those who were infected.

Taiwan’s success in keeping the virus out has enabled the island to open up and go back to relative normality in recent months, even as other parts of east Asia have been plunged back into lockdown or heightened restrictions as a result of new waves of infection.

On Monday, a top Taiwanese health official said it would not consider banning flights from the UK as a new strain was detected because of sufficient preventative measures already in place, according to state media.

Those found breaching the measures that have enabled Taiwan to stay almost Covid-free for months can face severe punishment. Earlier this month, a man was fined $3,500 by Taiwanese authorities after breaching quarantine for only 8 seconds.