Thursday, October 28, 2021
ADVT 
Life

VIRUS DIARY: One midnight moment in Taiwan's virus battle

Darpan News Desk The Canadian Press, 08 Sep, 2020 06:43 PM
  • VIRUS DIARY: One midnight moment in Taiwan's virus battle

“Get back in the car!” the masked people shouted at me. “Get back in!”

It was near midnight. My taxi just pulled into the parking lot where I was greeted by three masked people. They were dressed in heavy protective gear, goggles, gloves, face mask and medical gowns.

One person raised a sign saying: Do not get out of the car, please show your health questionnaire and passport. I couldn’t find mine. I panicked, asking my driver if he had it. He asked if it was in my luggage in the back trunk, and went to open the back trunk. I stepped out too, freaked out that I had just lost my passport. I was tired, lost and really hungry.

That was how I was greeted upon arrival at a centralized quarantine centre in Taiwan.

I had arrived in Taiwan to start my new job, but with the stress of moving, I'd come down with a cold. Unfortunately, I still had a cough by the time I flew to Taiwan. As a result, I was taken upon arrival to the quarantine centre rather than the quarantine hotel I'd booked.

Taiwan has been lauded around the world as a COVID-19 success story. It’s 160 kilometres (100 miles) off the mainland China coast, and because of the economic and cultural relations with the mainland, where the virus outbreak first surfaced, many feared Taiwan would be hit hard.

But more than eight months after the outbreak, the island has only had seven deaths from COVID-19 and 488 confirmed cases. How was Taiwan able to keep the numbers so low? I got to see for myself.

On my flight to Taipei, each passenger had a separate row. Flight attendants wore medical gowns, goggles, face masks and gloves. No food was served.

Because I'd showed up at the border with a cough, health authorities also took a throat swab test. Before I could get into my taxi assigned by the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control to be taken to the centralized centre, I got sprayed from shoulder downwards with disinfectant. The taxi driver, decked out in protective gear, maintained a distance.

“I don’t have COVID!” I wanted to say to him. But it seemed a moot point.

I felt only anxiety. Just 10 hours ago I was eating Nepali food with friends in a restaurant in Shanghai. Now I was being treated as a contaminant.

I'd rushed back to Beijing in early February, before China shut its borders and instituted a strict centralized quarantine for all arrivals. Life had in many ways returned to normal in the last few months. Beijing, the capital city where I had been living for two years, was as busy as ever with traffic jams and fewer and fewer people wearing masks. Offices had reopened, and I could gather with friends in restaurants and bars without fear.

But now I was crossing a border, an uncertain undertaking at a time like this. And while China considers Taiwan as its own, the island has its own government.

My experience, while jarring, was understandable to me. Many nations, my own United States included, have seemingly moved away from stringent efforts against COVID-19. The pandemic is still raging in many places, still killing people and leaving others with long-term health effects. The road ahead is long and uncertain.

After getting back into the taxi, I checked my bookbag. My passport and all my documents were in there. From that moment, everything proceeded smoothly. The next day I got my test result. It was negative. I was permitted to leave the quarantine centre for my hotel, where I would finish my isolation.

MORE Life ARTICLES

Groups unite to urge US to extend food aid to schoolchildren

Groups unite to urge US to extend food aid to schoolchildren

A high-profile coalition of educators, activists and philanthropists — including the American Federation of Teachers, the NAACP and the charity World Central Kitchen — is urging Congress to extend and expand emergency provisions that allow school districts nationwide to feed millions of children during the coronavirus pandemic.

Groups unite to urge US to extend food aid to schoolchildren

Women embrace #challengeaccepted, but some ask: To what end?

Women embrace #challengeaccepted, but some ask: To what end?

“Challenge accepted," they wrote — female Instagram users across the United States, flooding the photo-sharing app with black-and-white images.

Women embrace #challengeaccepted, but some ask: To what end?

Plush toys, jewelry, dance lessons - Broadway's side hustles

Plush toys, jewelry, dance lessons  -  Broadway's side hustles

Broadway seamstress Amy Micallef hasn't put her talent on hold while theatres are shut. She's been making plush toys — unusual plush toys.

Plush toys, jewelry, dance lessons - Broadway's side hustles

Can I get a job? Wife tries it all for nursing home reunion

Can I get a job? Wife tries it all for nursing home reunion

One hundred and 14 days. That’s how long Mary Daniel went without seeing her husband after the coronavirus banned visitors from his nursing home, separating the couple for the first time since he was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's seven years ago.

Can I get a job? Wife tries it all for nursing home reunion

VIRUS DIARY: Keeping New York alive, one song at a time

VIRUS DIARY: Keeping New York alive, one song at a time

Outside, the soundtrack of sirens wailed, each another death blow to the city that had nurtured my development as a musician for so long. But from inside my life on lockdown, an unexpected reconnection to my catalogue of sounds was handing me hope for New York's future.

VIRUS DIARY: Keeping New York alive, one song at a time

Virus adds to deep despair felt by war-weary young Arabs

Virus adds to deep despair felt by war-weary young Arabs

At 24, Sama al-Diwani and her college sweetheart had big dreams. Those dreams came to a screeching halt with the outbreak of the coronavirus, as countries shut down, economies buckled and global chaos followed.

Virus adds to deep despair felt by war-weary young Arabs