Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Taiwan is -- and should be -- angry about its first local coronavirus transmission since April


This was the look on my face when I heard the news. Yeesh.

Just a few quick thoughts on today's news of the first domestic transmission in over 200 days.

First, I never thought I'd see the day when Taiwanese were royally pissed at Kiwis, but here we are. Or at least, they're pissed at one selfish prat from New Zealand who didn't want to wear a mask or cooperate fully with contact tracers. There are rumors about why he was "not truthful", but nothing confirmed. At least, EVA is mulling firing the man. Good. If he had acted in good faith, told the contact tracers all the details he certainly did remember and worn a mask, that would be one thing. But he didn't; he's endangered lives and the company image. I'd say it's fair to let him go.

Second, anyone thinking the previous streak was "too good to be true" and thought the government was probably lying about something are proven wrong. The second a local transmission was confirmed, they announced it. They have been wonderfully transparent and there's no reason to doubt that.

One commentator said there was "introspection" in Taiwan today, but why should there be? Taiwanese did everything right. It was this one selfish git who isn't Taiwanese and as far as I'm aware doesn't live in Taiwan, though I suppose he probably visits (well, visited) often as part of his job. I think anger or at least frustration is the most justified response and wouldn't judge anyone for feeling that way.

What we can expect now: more enforced mask-wearing rules, people staying home more, a bit more worry and a bit less of the "eh, they say we have to wear a mask but I can lower it because we all know there's no COVID in Taiwan" that I've noticed since the new mask rules went into effect at the beginning of December. On one hand, that everyone's frustrated at one local case shows just how well Taiwan has done. As Brendan said, "I heard the US had at least one new case today. I think the UK did too!" We can get through this, we just need to redouble our efforts for a bit. On the other hand, I will admit to being slightly worried about anti-foreigner discrimination rising again. After an initial spate of hotels, restaurants and nightlife spots implementing policies deeply unfair to foreign residents earlier this year, things calmed down after Taiwan's Hardworking Dad Chen Shih-chung asked everyone, in his very Dad-like way, to quit it because this issue affects us all (there's more to the story of why he said that when he did than I am letting on, but suffice it to say he said it; that's what matters.) Now that it's clear that foreigners with permission to be out and about in Taiwan might be a possible vector, we're going to have to wait and see if we'll start being turned away from restaurants and hotels again. We'll also have to keep an eye on whether calls to stop the entry of newly-recruited foreign blue-collar workers re-commences (honestly, they've been ongoing for awhile now but fortunately mostly ineffective). I hope not: I travel frequently for work now and it would be a real problem if I couldn't book hotels with every confidence that I'd actually be allowed to stay there. With at least one case of a hotel calling someone while en route to check in to say that they were not welcome, this could severely impact my work if it becomes a trend again.

There's really only one thing left to say: masks up, readers.

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