Preparing umbrellas before it rains

Dahlan Iskan former Minister of State-Owned Enterprises

 IO – In the end, South Korea wasn’t the best. More praise from the world is due to Taiwan. There has never been a fight over masks in Taiwan. Since the beginning. Since COVID-19 still doesn’t have a name. And more special: Taiwan has powerful tips to prevent communal deaths. And that was done just before the virus came to Taiwan. When there hasn’t been panic. 

How? By also playing data: all hospitals have complete data. They look for anyone who has a disease associated with breathing. Who has also been treated with the disease? Anyone with severe pain? The numbers are so alive. Not considered mere inanimate objects – which are buried in cupboard shelves. 

At that time Taiwan was still safe. But this was already known: there is a plague in mainland China – only a stone’s throw away. Taiwan does not underestimate that information. Data from the hospital is collected. Quickly. Those who have this type of illness are prepared for special treatment. This includes being told: You are a group of citizens who must be the most alert. 

The safe times were used to prepare for the arrival of the crown. When finally COVID-19 stopped in Taiwan the most vulnerable group was already dealt with. 

Likewise, when the cruise ship Diamond Princess stopped in Taiwan. Later word got out that the ship was COVID-infected. Taiwan residents panicked. The government immediately calmed them down with data: 50 locations were most likely visited by Diamond Princess passengers. The names of the locations were opened in detail. Residents were asked to be vigilant: those who felt connected with the locations were asked to provide information. Fifteen days later – when the Diamond Princess uproar shook the world – a Taiwan government announcement emerged: none of the 50 locations were found containing sufferers of COVID-19. 

Taiwan does have a special institution dealing with epidemics. The institution is permanent – a part of the disaster management agency. It was formed after the 2003 SARS epidemic. The agency also has an information clarification department. Their job is to monitor social movements. If there is incorrect information, it is immediately clarified for the public. Including if there are hoaxes. Within 24 hours – before the misinformation becomes more widespread – there is an official explanation. That explanation is made as a bulletin. Included in the form of memes, then sent to the mass media. Also sent to all cellphone numbers. The assumption: all residents have received the explanation. Taiwan has become a historic model facing the plague. Namely the model “preparing the umbrella before it rains”. Another one is the Wuhan model – because there is already an epidemic: lockdown. Because rain has already entered the house. 

The “preparing umbrella before it rains” model was a huge success. Only 380 Taiwanese were affected by COVID-19. Only 6 people died. If the data of certain diseased people was not handled before COVID erupted, that minimum amount would have been impossible to achieve. 

The Wuhan model was also a huge success – through the great suffering of lockdown. There are no new sufferers – in the last two weeks. 

America is making the world shake its head. Such a modern country. As strong as that. How galling it is. As rich as that. America does not want to learn from Taiwan. Taiwan is indeed a friend of the United States. It has even become like a part of America. As if a part of a nose, Taiwan is considered the most disposable. 

Taiwan has been developing umbrellas since the rain was falling in Wuhan. January 27, 2020, Taiwan did this: passengers from Wuhan may not leave the plane. They were checked first. Their temperatures were tested. The problem was isolated. Even earlier. January 20, 2020 – a week before Chinese New Year – Taiwan has announced to its people: don’t fight over masks. The government has produced more masks. On that date, Taiwan had prepared millions of masks – 44 million operating masks and 1.9 million N95 masks. 1,100 isolation rooms had been prepared in all hospitals there. All were equipped with negative room pressure. 

In early February, Taiwan could only produce 4 million masks/day, last month it had become 16 million/day. 

Since late January, the government also set the price of masks: IDR 23,500 / 9 masks. It also sets a quota: people can only buy masks for 14 days. Mask distribution is controlled by the government. The mask buyer must show a health insurance member card – similar to BPJS here. Without the card, they will not be served. Remarkably, 99.9 percent of Taiwan’s population has a card like that. Which is just 0.1 percent left because they had just been born – the card is still in being processed. 

They can also order a mask through the government website. At the same price. Goods can be picked up at the nearest store. Like 7Eleven stores, FamilyMart, and the like. Payment is made when receiving the item: IDR 23. 500/9 mask. In cash. 

Out of 25 million Taiwanese, those who work in mainland China are around 2 million. Including those in business. There are more Chinese-mainland tourists to Taiwan. Taiwan arithmetic: overcast already dark. The disaster already hovering low. The rain will come. Very heavy. Umbrellas must be prepared immediately.