The second wave of COVID-19 in Taiwan is cause for increasing concern. For four consecutive days, starting on Monday, the government has announced new confirmed cases, including several members of a tour group who visited Turkey. Among 23 new cases that the Central Epidemic Command Center announced on Wednesday, four were members of that tour group. As of Thursday, only two individuals in the entire tour group have tested negative for the virus.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, has expressed concern over this cluster of infections.
As of Thursday, Turkey and Egypt had reported only 191 and 210 confirmed COVID-19 cases respectively — fewer than those being reported throughout Europe and the US, so why is the positive diagnosis rate so high for this group of tourists? What factors should be considered when determining the degree of risk?
Our research team has been running computer simulations of various diseases for many years, and we have conducted numerous evaluative studies of public health policies in response to the potential for emerging epidemic diseases. Based on our experience, we can offer a response and some advice.
When simulating the transmission dynamics of an emerging epidemic disease, these programs execute hundreds or thousands of simulations to cover all possible circumstances and variables. They try to include factors that governments might not anticipate, using variations of common transmission patterns, and making modifications in response to urgent or rare situations.
These models consider many aspects of overseas travel, including flying, processing customs paperwork, checking in and retrieving luggage. The details of the international travel system are the same whether they occur in Turkey, Egypt, Europe, the US or any other country.
Based on these factors and our experience, Chen is correct in asserting that this coronavirus can be found in the cabins of many airplanes, and therefore people should avoid flying. However, not enough emphasis is being placed on the roles of international airports in spreading COVID-19, due to the numerous passengers and many aircraft arriving for maintenance.
From a statistical point of view, the probability of physically encountering the novel coronavirus or of being exposed to infected individuals in large international airports or in the cabins of airplanes is much higher than in homes, workplaces, schools or other public spaces.
These pandemic simulations show that large international airports and airplane cabins are major sources of risk, and are high on the list of reasons COVID-19 has spread so widely and quickly.
To protect the health of all individuals and their families, and to help the government delay the spread of COVID-19 in Taiwan, people must avoid all international air travel and airports during the pandemic.
Huang Chung-yuan is a professor at Chang Gung University’s Graduate Institute of Computer Science and Information Engineering. Chin Wei-chien is a research fellow at Singapore University of Technology and Design.
Since COVID-19 broke out in Taiwan, there has been a fair amount of news regarding discrimination and “witch hunts” against medical personnel, people under self-quarantine and other targets, such as the students of a school where an infection was discovered. Quarantine breakers are almost certainly on the loose and it is only natural for people to be vigilant. One in Chiayi was found by accident at a traffic stop because his helmet was not fastened. However, those who follow the rules by quarantining themselves should be encouraged to keep up the good work in a difficult situation, instead of being
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) has said that there is a huge difference between Chinese military aircraft circling Taiwan along the edges of its airspace and invading Taiwan’s airspace. He also said that whether it is US or Chinese aircraft flying along or encircling Taiwan’s airspace, there is no legal basis to say that such actions imply a clear provocation of Taiwan, and asked the Ministry of National Defense not to mislead the public. People who hear this might think that it is not a very Taiwanese thing to say. US military activity in the vicinity of Taiwan
As the nation welcomes home Taiwanese who had been stranded in China’s Hubei Province — arguably one of the most dangerous places on Earth since the novel coronavirus outbreak began in its capital, Wuhan, late last year — problems surrounding the “quasi-charter flights” that brought them back have been largely overlooked. The media used the term to describe the two flights dispatched by Taiwan’s state-run China Airlines because they do not count as charter flights. Taiwanese wanting to board those flights had to travel — most likely by train — more than 1,000km from Hubei to Shanghai Pudong International Airport
Burger King Taiwan on Wednesday last week posted an update on Facebook advertising a new “Wuhan pneumonia” (武漢肺炎) home delivery meal, catering to customers hankering for a Whopper, but who wished to avoid visiting one of its outlets. “Wuhan pneumonia” is the term commonly used in Taiwan to describe COVID-19. Beijing has been waging an extensive propaganda campaign against the use of the words “Wuhan” or “China” in reference to the novel coronavirus, calling it racist and discriminatory. Meanwhile, Chinese officials have claimed that the coronavirus might have originated in the US. The intention is obvious: to distract attention from the Chinese Communist