Abbey talks to The Taiwan Times on COVID-19

Born and raised in Taipei, Abbey is now a junior student at a college in Taichung. As an adventurous girl, she loves to travel around the world and spent a month in Europe this January, right before the outbreak of COVID-19.

She kindly agreed to answer some of our questions.

Have the recent clampdowns affected you?

Luckily I wasn’t affected much by the clampdowns because I returned to Taiwan on February 13th. At that time, the Taiwanese government hadn’t imposed immigration control on passengers except for people traveling back from China. However, a few days after I came back, COVID-19 broke out and is still at pandemic status in Europe.

What particular annoyances have you felt?

From the first death in China to the outbreak of COVID in Europe it took about a month, corresponding to the period of my vacation in Europe.

At that time, I strongly felt that I was judged unreasonably by people in public areas, for the lone reason that I am an Asian girl.

For instance, I once slightly cleared my throat on a bus in Paris during my travels, and was given dirty looks by the other passengers immediately.

However, no one cares about people who are not Asian, including those who had already been coughing non-stop for 10 minutes. It was then I felt acutely discriminated against and this kind of judgement really made me feel uncomfortable.

Has Taiwan done a good job in its handling of the COVID-19 issue?

Taiwan has indeed done an excellent job handling the COVID-19 issue.

Due to the geographic location, Taiwan is definitely considered as a high-risk region for the coronavirus.

However, our government imposed border restrictions on Chinese at an early point, which I think was the key policy for Taiwan to control the epidemic effectively.

Besides, stopping the export of masks, and setting up a system for distributing masks helped protect Taiwanese people.

The daily press conference held by our government also helps clarify what is rumor, and what is fake news regarding the epidemic as well as helps to instruct the Taiwanese about how to combat the virus.

Therefore, although the number of infected people is rapidly increasing, I believe the whole situation is still under control. 

What could Taiwan do better?

Infighting has always been a common political problem in Taiwan, and it has come to the fore at this crucial time too.

Some politicians are still being petty by spreading rumors; some keep asking the government to change the director of the National Health Command Center (NHCC) for political reasons, even though he has done well in protecting Taiwan from COVID-19.

Therefore, if those politicians could stop behaving like this, I believe the whole combating of the virus would be performed even more effectively.

How are you spending your time of late – living as normal a life as possible or on edge because of the virus?

Wearing masks when taking public transportation becomes a necessary part of life during this period.

Also, I will choose to hang out with my friends in an open area rather than in hermetic places such as restaurants.

Except for the adjustments mentioned above, I think the rest of my life remains normal.

So far the information about COVID-19 released to the public isn’t enough, and whether or not the virus will keep affecting people remains unknown.

Moreover, industries are strongly affected by the epidemic. Many businesses and factories have shut down due to the pandemics.

Without orders and income, companies may cut down their personnel costs. Thus, the unemployment rate might increase and a severe economic recession may await us in the future. 

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