Pandemic like World War III, except virus can't be eradicated: expert

04/07/2020 11:30 PM
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National Taiwan University professor Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權)
National Taiwan University professor Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權)

Taipei, April 7 (CNA) The dean of the College of Public Health at National Taiwan University described the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday as a bomb-free World War III, in which the virus is an enemy that cannot be eradicated.

"The pandemic is changing the world" in many ways, such as business behavior and how people interact with each other, said Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) in a speech at the Central News Agency, Taiwan's national news service.

In the past, only wars could drive countries to stop people from coming in or going out, he said, but now, because of the virus, many countries have "built walls."

"It is like being in World War III without the guns and bombs," Chan said, predicting that lifestyles and commercial behavior of people around the world may not be the same as before the pandemic outbreak.

Facing the emerging infectious disease, the expert suggested that efforts be made to "find a way to get along with the virus peacefully, because it cannot be eradicated."

Now that the world is in the midst of a public health crisis, the most efficient way to safeguard public health before medications or vaccines can be produced is to use "non-pharmaceutical intervention," such as imposing social distancing protocols to minimize the transmission window, Chan contended.

He suggested that non-essential activities such as recreation should be suspended amid the pandemic.

People can still enjoy takeout coffee and schools can postpone classes, Chan said, citing Taiwan as an example that, thanks to the measure of delaying the opening day of the new school semester after the winter break in January, most students can still go to school now.

Also, wearing masks is essential, Chan went on, describing them as a "physical barrier" against the virus.

Now that most Taiwanese people are wearing masks to avoid virus transmission, the public health expert joked that Taiwan could "change the world" again with masks, as it did with bubble milk tea.

He was referring to more and more people in Europe starting to wear masks in crowded places, while they had been reluctant to do so when the outbreak had just emerged in their countries.

Chan predicted that the global pandemic will last until this summer, and after then the outbreak will be limited to certain countries.

At the end of his speech, the expert suggested that the government should expand testing for COVID-19 because amid the global spread of the virus, people will want to know if they are infected.

In the future, people might also possibly be required to produce a test certificate if they want to travel to other countries, Chan predicted.

(By Hsu Chih-wei and Elizabeth Hsu)

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