The Impact on Taiwan since the Outbreak of Coronavirus

The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis — Dante Alighieri

A few months ago, you would never have thought the panic of SARS will happen again after 17 years. Talking and laughing with friends naturally suddenly becomes a risk. What you can see in the Mass Rapid Transport now is people wear multiple colors of face masks, the only way to communicate is from the eyes. After the outbreak of Coronavirus from our neighbor— China in Jan. 2020, we had the first patient who came back from Wuhan for the Chinese New Year. Soon, we had 26 confirmed cases, most of them came back from China, while some of them have transferred to Hong Kong during traveling.

Even though we are so close to China and full of economic and cultural exchanges, we still prevent the virus as best as we could, and luckily, there’s no swarm infection until now. We are thankful for our government’s precaution of preventing the virus and the experience of fighting SARS before. However, even if we are preventing it well this virus currently, there are still some negative impacts on Taiwan. It makes me consider our current worldwide situation and history we have been through.

Making a run for the daily necessities. When there’s a war or disease spreading, people go on a panic-buying spree for daily necessities, such as hygiene products and kitchen supplies and so on.
The face masks, alcohol for disinfection and even toilet paper become priorities in daily life. After the outbreak of the coronavirus, our government prohibited the export of the face masks for a month and the policy has been extended until April due to the spreading of the virus. Furthermore, to avoid the stock of face masks, we have to buy them with our real name. Every morning, you can find a bunch of people line up in front of the pharmacy for the face masks. When there’s a panic-buying spree for daily necessities, we also have to worry about the price being jacked up due to the law of demand and supply. Thanks for people’s supervision and the government’s policy, we can still purchase these necessities at a normal price.

Ignorance of Taiwan’s sovereignty by the international community. The history between Taiwan and China is just like Zeus’s love stories, which are long and complicated. Taiwan is excluded by the World Health Organization and didn’t get the invitation to participate in the World Health Association in 2019 either because of the obstruction of the politics with China. I remember 17 years ago since we are excluded by the WHO, since we were already excluded by the WHO, we fought against the SARS alone, and this time, it seems that we might fight against the Coronavirus alone again. Moreover, WHO follows the One-China policy, which means that they include Taiwan under China. With the spread of the epidemic, some countries’ travel bans are applied to Taiwan, even if there are less confirmed cases now in Taiwan compared to Japan and Korea. Italy, Vietnam, and the Philippines announced to ban the direct flight to/from Taiwan, but after our serious complaints, Vietnam and the Philippines canceled this policy. However, the suspensions of the direct flights still remain in Italy until now. In fact, I am quite indifferent to our politics due to complicity and inability. Because of what happened right now, I clearly notice how helpless our people are if a country loses its sovereignty. Without the first-hand information about the Coronavirus, it not only puts our country at risk but also exposes the danger all over the world as we are not a closed country.

Blind racism. When bad things happened, it is easy to find something or someone to blame. I haven’t heard about any racist cases happening here in Taiwan, but people in other countries are not that lucky. Some of my friends in European countries, when they’re on the bus, the locals will cover up their noses and mouths and it’s just because they are Asians. Furthermore, since I work in an online travel agency, some of our merchant’s drivers even reject to pick up the tourists, just because they are from Asia. What’s worse, people who find out about this situation don’t stop the racist reaction. Because of a small virus, it almost turns the world into a great panic. What we see in the thrilled movie, like “The Hot Zone” or even “The Resident Evil,” it almost reflects in the real world now.

Until now, the epidemic hasn’t been controlled yet, the patients are still fighting for their lives, people still live under the panic. However, every cloud has a silver lining. There is also some good news: a few countries, including Taiwan, have isolated and identified the virus strain. It is a chance to develop the vaccine in the future. Also, Taiwan had been finally invited to join the experts’ online conference in WHO last week to gain first-hand information about the virus. We appreciate some countries’ support, such as Japan, Canda, even the EU, and the White House. Moreover, two Taiwanese teams have synthesized Remdesivir, an experimental medication that has shown promise in fighting the Coronavirus recently.

Even though there’s a contribution, we have suspended the flights to/from China, and have prohibited people who have the Chinese passport to enter into Taiwan for now due to the Coronavirus; besides, our government has quarantined strictly people who travel back from China for 14 days since the end of January, and have promoted constantly the prevention of Coronavirus every day, but how many people around the world will know our hard-working and the different sanitary system from China? The obstruction from China still exists in the international community, and perhaps we all will get through the epidemic this time as we do every time, but will everyone remember the reason why the Coronavirus spreads so fast in the first place?

We learn from the ruthless from the natural disaster, we understand the brutality of the world wars. We develop high technologies to predict natural disasters and follow the Charter of the United Nations to prevent another world war. What do we learn from the unknown virus? What I know now is the moral crisis that comes with the outbreak of a disease. When the environment becomes worse, we should choose the right side to possess a better future, just like the crisis we face now, some people will choose to be mean, while others will stay silent as there’s no impact on them at all. However, as Dante mentions in “Inferno,” neutrality doesn’t mean people would not have sinned, instead, they are worse than greatest sinners in hell. Since this reaction somehow helps the meanness. As one of the younger generations, I hope there would be less meanness, like selfishness, indifference, and even racism. What’s more, there would be a change in international politics for Taiwan in the near future.

Coronavirus Global Cases:

Sources: Johns Hopkins CSSE

(Reference: a visual guide to the outbreak, What Taiwan has done to curb Coronavirus Spread)

Seeker of knowledge, equality under uncertainty and happiness.

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