Envoy shares Taiwan's COVID-19 success in first French Senate speech

09/10/2020 01:12 PM
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Taiwan's top envoy to France, François Wu (left, standing), speaking at the French Senate Wednesday.

Paris, Sept. 9 (CNA) Taiwan's top envoy to France shared the nation's experience at containing the COVID-19 pandemic at a French Senate hearing Wednesday, in the first ever speech by a Taiwanese envoy at the French Senate.

The mutual trust between the Taiwanese people and its government and the ability of both the private and public sectors in staying vigilant are the main reasons that Taiwan has been able to successfully contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, François Wu (吳志中) said in the hearing.

Wu attributed the success to the nation's experience in fighting the 2003 SARS outbreak and its early epidemic response measures, including screening arriving passengers from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of COVID-19, not long after learning about the outbreak that began late last year.

Taiwan's highly transparent and efficient Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), which regularly informs its people of the latest updates about the COVID-19 outbreak, maintained a strong sense of trust between authorities and the public, he said.

Also, the nation is able to make good use of technology in tracking the phones of people in home quarantine, in tracing all contacts of confirmed patients, and in boosting its daily surgical face mask output.

Those measures helped Taiwan to prevent the spread of the infectious disease, he said.

Echoing Wu's view, Jean-Francois Casabonne-Masonnave, head of the French Office in Taipei, which represents French interests in Taiwan in the absence of official ties, said at the same hearing that the decision to impose a number of epidemic prevention measures and mutual trust between the people and the government are crucial for Taiwan's success in combating the virus.

In a democratic system, the efficiency of an epidemic prevention measure depends largely on whether its people trust the government, said Casabonne-Masonnave.

Taiwan's CECC daily news briefings have been closely followed by Taiwanese people and its host, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), now enjoys a high 80-plus percent popularity among Taiwanese, he said.

Meanwhile, Taiwan has recognized the fact that it did not have enough surgical face mask production capability in the early stage of the pandemic and purchased new face mask production machines from Germany to boost its daily output, he continued.

There are also a large number of experienced Taiwanese companies capable of manufacturing high quality face masks, representing successful government-private sector cooperation in combating the coronavirus, he added.

Casabonne-Masonnave said Taiwan's exemplary performance during the pandemic has helped to raise its international visibility.

The two envoys' comments were made before a Senate committee created in July to evaluate public policies for pandemics in light of the COVID-19 crisis and how it was managed.

Senator Catherine Deroche, who took part in Wednesday's hearing, told CNA that she is eager to learn from Taiwan's success in containing the coronavirus.

She pointed out that Taiwan's mask-wearing strategy and culture have played an important role in its success, which is something Paris should learn from.

"In France, however, in the beginning people were told that wearing face masks could not help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but now the government has changed its stance and is demanding that everyone wear a mask," she said.

She also reiterated her stance in urging the World Health Organization to invite Taiwan to share its expertise in public health to the world.

Wu's attendance at Wednesday's hearing was the first time that a top Taiwanese representative to France has been invited to speak at the Senate.

Wu told CNA after the hearing that this unprecedented invitation shows that relations between France and Taiwan have significantly improved over the years.

"Taiwan is now gaining positive visibility across Europe due to its success in combating the pandemic," he said.

(By Tseng Ting-hsuan and Joseph Yeh)

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