This is going to be a time of change and reshuffling. There is a 3-5 year period to hustle and strategically position ourselves to create positive impact in this world.
On March 17th, the moment we heard that our city in the San Francisco Bay Area will start to go through a stay-home quarantine in midnight, we bought a one-way ticket for the whole family to fly to Taiwan.
We literally had two hours to pack out of the blue, and could only bring the essentials for a trip that could be anywhere between 3-8 months. Usually it takes two hours to pack for a one-day trip for my twin daughters, but this time it was like escaping an army of plague. We only grabbed what we needed to survive the plane flight, and planned to figure out where to live and what to wear after.
Taiwan was one of the first countries to get hit by COVID-19, as every week there were 150,000 people commuting between Taiwan and China.
But Taiwan managed it very well and so far has only experienced 3 deaths to date. When we left the US on the 17th we believe (and still believe) the worst was yet to come. In Taiwan we believe the worst is already over (these 2 weeks due to a mass reverse-exodus of people like me, Taiwan’s cases jumped from 50ish to 300ish with deaths 2 and 3 during this time too, but it is not the fault of Taiwan operations and they still handle things very well as will explain below).
Also, Taiwan is very aggressive in testing people so the numbers should be exhaustive (as opposed to many countries saying you have symptoms would not get you treated if you did not travel). Even after the virus wave, I believe there will be so many/much bankruptcies, unemployment, social unrest, and aggression towards Asians that it wouldn’t be an ideal place to stay for my daughters.
Here’s what Taiwan is doing:
All foreign returns including myself are self-manage quarantined for 14 days.
What makes Taiwan stand out is that my neighborhood head (like mayor but for the neighborhood) calls around 2-3 times a day to make sure my family is staying home and feeling well (we get individual calls for each individual in the family).
The CDC also texts us daily to make sure we are feeling well, and if not, responding to the text would trigger a special vehicle to take us to the hospital (many global cases were results from Taxi rides to the hospitals).
Even at home, I’m supposed to be wearing a face mask at all times to make sure other family members are not affected (btw, since most sick people don’t know they are sick, saying you should only wear masks if you are sick is not useful).
The Taiwanese government also provides some money for each day of self-quarantine to ease economic impact or get a helper to buy food for individuals etc.
Last week they even sent a full police force to bust into nightclubs, Karaokes, and markets proactively to escort violators back home and fine them $3K – $30K USD which is substantial for a Taiwanese salary.
Again, the people who are fined huge amounts are not confirmed cases, just foreigners returning from risky areas are supposed to be quarantined.
The government is taking no chances of this breaking out. Everyone is afraid of the chink in the armor for the national defense and is preventing that outbreak in all means.
What’s also unique is that each sick person has a unique number. So everyday in the news we will see statements like, “We now know #25 transmitted to #36 as they were attending the same school in the UK. #43 recovered and returned home from the hospital last Tuesday but a follow up check shows that she seems to be getting worse again.”
This is why despite being the inconvenienced quarantine foreign returns, I feel much safer and better being here in Taiwan than anywhere else in the world.
This whole experience became a prelude for me to think about the Post-COVID Resistance, which I will talk about in another post.