South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan: Beating the pandemic without a lockdown

Unlike mainland China, the three countries and territory did not lock down their economies and populations. The Chinese model, also adopted by Italy, could have serious economic repercussions. The speed of intervention, a good healthcare system, and a cooperative population favoured success in the three democracies.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan are winning the fight against coronavirus without resorting to a strict lockdown.

Unlike mainland China, but also some Western countries, the governments of the three countries and territory did not halt economic activities, and have not excessively limited the freedom of movement of their citizens.

Since the pandemic crisis broke out in January, Taiwanese, South Koreans and Hong Kongers have been able to go out.

Whilst in Europe and the United States there is still a debate as to whether or not to open public places, bars and restaurants in South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan continue to operate.

The only real constraint for their populations is wearing protective masks and gloves, and respect social distancing. So far, this has worked.

All three have seen the number of new cases drop. Hong Kong did not report any cases yesterday; Taiwan had two; South Korea, 13. Overall numbers also remain low, which is leading to further easing of restrictions.

Countries like Italy that adopted China’s draconian approach have experienced serious economic repercussions.

South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan are considered more "democratic". The value of their policies is even greater if we take into account that all three share common elements.

Speed ​​of action is the key to their success, boosted by the excellence of their respective health systems.

The three countries and territory quickly closed the borders with China, the epicentre of the pandemic, imposing strict quarantine measures for those entering their territory.

Health authorities also launched mass testing to identify infected people, and map all their contacts with others.

All this was favoured by government transparency with the authorities keeping citizens regularly informed of developments.

According to many observers, the active cooperation of the affected populations also contributed decisively to the containment of the epidemic.

The large turnout at polling stations in South Korea on 15 April, in compliance with the health standards established by the government, is a concrete example.

Now however, many in South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong fear that improved conditions may lead people to let their guard down, creating the possibility of a new wave of infections.

For this reason, the three governments remain on high alert. Taiwan even simulated an emergency with 500 new cases in a single day, followed by the rapid introduction of a more aggressive lockdown.