The Secret of success
One of the main reasons for Taiwan's success in containing the virus is speed.
The island's leaders were quick to act as rumors spread online of an unidentified virus in the Chinese city of Wuhan and unconfirmed reports of patients having to isolate.
Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told CNN the deadly outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 had taught them a lot. "At the time Taiwan was hit very hard and then we started building up our capacity dealing with a pandemic like this," said Wu.
"So, when we heard that there were some secret pneumonia cases in China where patients were treated in isolation, we knew it was something similar."
Even before Beijing publicly acknowledged the gravity of the virus, Wu said Taiwan health officials began screening passengers arriving from Wuhan and additional early travel restrictions were put in place.
As much of the world waited for more information, Taiwan activated its Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), which coordinates different ministries in an emergency, and the military was brought in to boost mask and PPE production.
Those initial, early responses to the outbreak in China -- and the willingness to take action -- were critical in preventing the spread of the virus in Taiwan, potentially saving thousands of lives.
During the height of the lockdowns imposed in the Philippines as measures to help contain the spread of the covid19 pandemic in the country, four colleagues belonging to the Philippine Foreign Trade Service Corps, all Philippine Commercial Diplomats heading the various Philippine Trade and Investment Centers in Tokyo, Seoul, Brussels and here in Taiwan, respectively -- countries which did not impose total lockdowns and community quarantnes -- joined hands to work quietly together on a project to produce reusable face masks with relatively higher levels of protection by adding an insertable hepa filter-feature.
Together, they sought donations from various members of the business community from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to source materials such as fabrics, hepa filters, labels and packaging and elastic bands and worked with kind-hearted businessmen, institutions and individuals from the Philippines to tap differently-abled, disabled and less fortunate individuals whose livelihoods have been adversely affected by the pandemic.
The project was able to produce more than 10,000 reusable and washable masks to be distributed to frontliners and less-fortunate families and communities, whose means could not afford for them to buy much-needed disposable facemasks, which were in great scarcity at the time, to protect their families and loved ones.
The video gives a brief description of the project and explains the science and effectivity of using face masks to minimize the risks of getting covid19. Not new knowledge here, but from time to time, it would be good to remind ourselves of the critical importance of wearing face masks, especially now that everyone seems to be having covid19 fatigue.
Please watch in your spare time and share to your contacts, as a reminder. It might help save lives.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is joining hands with Stanford University in the U.S. to design a mechanism for effective testing and quarantine as the island country prepares to relax travel restrictions next month.
The collaboration involves Stanford University School of Medicine sending 500 people from San Francisco to Taipei, where they will undergo testing every two days in a 14-day quarantine period. These individuals must test negative for the coronavirus (COVID-19) and be placed under quarantine prior to their flights to Taiwan, reported the Financial Times.
The aim of the experiment is to work out the shortest possible isolation requirement for travelers, instead of the two-week rule currently being applied by most countries, said Jason Wang, a professor at Stanford Medical School who is participating in the project. Details of the scheme are being hammered out, said Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳), an infectious disease doctor and member of Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
Read more: Taiwan News
MANILA, Philippines — Unknown to many, a raw material sourced from a type of banana plant, Musa textilis, is now in high demand due to the global shortage of one of the most important tools against the coronavirus pandemic — personal protective equipment (PPE).
Locally known as abaca, it has been one of the country’s top traditional cash crops for decades, along with sugar and tobacco, and appears to be making a comeback as the world rushes to produce more PPE.
“Before COVID-19, face masks, gowns, shoe covers, head covers and PPE only represented less than 1 percent of the total annual abaca production in the Philippines,” said Kennedy Costales, executive director of the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (Philfida).
According to the official, abaca’s unique, porous fibers are ideal for making medical fabric. As such, the crop has rapidly become a prized commodity as governments all over the world try to stop the spread of COVID-19 without a vaccine, armed only with masks and PPE to save lives.
“With the new normal, demand for face masks will spike exponentially worldwide. PPE are just one of the hundred end products of the precious abaca plant,” Costales added.
Read more: Inquirer
Taipei, May 7 (CNA) Taipei MRT passengers traveling on the Bannan Line can get information about the crowd situation in each carriage from Friday to prevent large crowds from flocking to specific areas of the trains, as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Taipei Rapid Transit Corp. (TRTC) said Thursday.
Passengers can check either the Mandarin version of the "Go! Taipei Metro" app at https://apps.apple.com/tw/app/台北捷運go/id997212021 or simply watch the station platform TV screens to find out about the crowd situation on all six carriages of each train, the TRTC said.
There will be four colored indicators showing how crowded the carriages are -- with green suggesting comfortable, yellow average, orange moderate and red crowded -- the company said.
But there will be no such information provided at either Dingpu Station or the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center Station, as they are the terminals at each end of the line, TRTC said.
Read more: Focus Taiwan
Taoyuan, May 7 (CNA) State-run Taoyuan General Hospital said Thursday it successfully used blood purification techniques to treat a patient suffering from complications of COVID-19, though a government expert cautioned more research is needed to determine the overall efficacy of the treatment.
At a press conference, nephrologist Wang Wei-chieh (王偉傑) said his team used the techniques to inhibit an extreme immune response -- known as a "cytokine storm" -- which often causes death in severe COVID-19 patients.
The patient in question was a 52-year-old woman who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 15, Wang said.
On March 24, she was intubated after developing severe respiratory symptoms, and transferred to a negative-pressure isolation room two days later, he said.
From March 30-April 1, Wang said, the woman was treated using a combination of two blood purification techniques: plasmapheresis, which involves the removal, treatment and return of blood plasma, and continuous renal replacement treatment, a type of 24-hour dialysis.
The purpose of the treatments, according to Wang, was to clear the patient's body of cytokines -- proteins secreted during an immune response, which attack the perceived threat and cause localized inflammation.
The overproduction of cytokines can cause hyperinflammation in the lungs or other affected organs, leading to death.
According to Wang, the patient's condition improved after the treatments.
Read more: Focus Taiwan
Taipei, May 7 (CNA) A rapid antibody test kit for COVID-19 developed by a local biomedical company that can deliver results in just 10 minutes has passed clinical trials and is ready for mass production, a company official said Thursday.
The rapid test kit for the detection of antibodies of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been validated by a comprehensive clinical study conducted by National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH). The test boasts 100 percent sensitivity and 95 percent specificity, said Cooky Chen (陳作範), chairman of Excelsior Bio-System, Inc., at an event for the presentation of the results.
The method of testing is similar to that of a pregnancy test, which uses two red lines to indicate results. Two lines indicate that the test is positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, which usually means people have had COVID-19, according to project manager Hsieh Szu-min (謝思民), an infectious disease specialist from NTUH.
Through the clinical trials, the hospital provides references to the company, including methods of execution and conducting of the testing, and offers SARS-CoV-2-positive patient samples and negative samples it has collected during the pandemic for a double-blind study to evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of the test, Hsieh said.
The test kit was successful in detecting antibodies in 13 COVID-19 patients, Hsieh said, adding that the test therefore has a sensitivity of 100 percent.
Read more: Focus Taiwan
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As Taiwan gains attention worldwide for taking swift action to protect its citizens from the coronavirus, such as by assembling 90 mask production lines within three months, the island country's advancements in combining artificial intelligence (AI) with robotics, designed to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, also deserve the spotlight.
Temp-checking Robot "Ayuda"
To reduce the risk of frontline medical staff contracting the virus, The Syscom Group has improved its robots by enabling them to measure body temperatures and remind people to put on a mask. The machines' temperature scanners will sound the alarm when hospital visitors or employees with a fever (above 37.5 degrees Celcius) pass by.
Developed and manufactured in Taiwan, the temp-taking robots can perform multiple tasks, such as identifying and tracking faces, ticket printing, remote monitoring, video conferencing, and working as a tour guide.
Read more: Taiwan News
Taipei, May 6 (CNA) Recovered COVID-19 patients who test positive again for the disease are "almost not contagious" due to the low level of the virus in their bodies and thus pose little threat to the community, a Taiwanese epidemiologist said Tuesday.
Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳), an advisor to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), gave that assessment when asked at a daily press briefing how many COVID-19 patients had tested positive again after being discharged and if they were still infectious and could spread the disease.
Chang said that among Taiwan's 438 confirmed COVID-19 cases, there have been four cases in which they were initially discharged after testing negative for the disease three times but then returned to the hospital with renewed symptoms and were tested again.
The results for some of the four were sometimes negative and sometimes positive, making it very difficult for medical experts to determine if they should be treated again for the disease, he said.
Doctors eventually considered the patients COVID-19 positive and isolated and treated the patients again as a precaution, Chang said.
Read more: Focus Taiwan
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 6) -- Overseas Filipino workers and other passengers flying in from abroad will be allowed entry to the country beginning Friday — or earlier than originally announced — an official said.
In a public briefing Wednesday, National Task Force COVID-19 Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez said all inbound passengers will be accommodated starting May 8, as the temporary restrictions on flights will be lifted.
"Pero i-lilimit lang po natin to 400 to 500 po, para at least, kayang-kaya po nating i-manage," Galvez said.
[Translation: But we will limit it to 400 to 500 passengers, so we will be able to manage them.]
The Department of Transportation earlier announced the suspension of international inbound passenger flights from May 3 to 9 on Galvez' request.
Meanwhile, the Task Force chief implementer maintained that the government has not imposed limitations on outbound flights.
Earlier, he explained that the moratorium was imposed to ramp up the capacity of the government to properly process the growing number of Filipinos being brought home on a daily basis.
Read more: CNN Philippines
ABOUT PTIC TAIPEI
The Philippine Trade & Investment Center in Taipei is the Commercial Affairs Section of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office and the representative office of the Philippine Department of Trade & Industry in Taiwan