One of the poorest communities in Taiwan’s poorest province, Fangshan, has beaten the Delta variant.
How it did so offers very simple lessons for other countries struggling to suppress an outbreak, according to a report by The Guardian, shared by Yahoo News.
Fangshan’s borders encompass a long stretch of coast and four villages home to around 5,500 people, sandwiched between mountains and oceans.
In June, midway through Taiwan’s worst Covid outbreak of the pandemic with thousands of cases of the Alpha strain, authorities in the southern county of Pingtung detected a rush of cases in Fangshan, none of which appeared connected.
Fangshan had much in its favour – a low-density rural population with an outdoor lifestyle, and high community compliance. But it also had a lot against it. Fangshan’s health system is listed as “insufficiently resourced,” 20 percent of the population is over 65, and there were no protocols in place for being Delta ground zero. Almost nobody was vaccinated.
What followed was surprising in that it was nothing extraordinary. But it worked, and the outbreak was over in 19 days. The cluster would stop at 17, with one fatality.
The first patient identified was 63-year-old Chang Feng-nan, one of his village’s three or four taxi drivers. Other early cases included a 56-year-old woman and her eight-year-old grandson, both recently returned from Peru and quarantining at home.
At least three had some travel history, so the area’s director of health, Shy Cherng-Guei, requested genomic sequencing. Two days later the results came back: Delta.
“I was definitely in shock,” recalls the county’s political leader, magistrate Pan Men-An. “Pingtung was the first. All the preventative measures were for Alpha. We had no reference point, or anyone we could ask.”
Delta spreads quickly. A total 667 people were quarantined or hospitalised as cases or close contacts. Chang’s contacts alone – identified through a notebook he kept of his daily interactions – numbered around 100 and included passengers, friends and family, and their friends and family. (Punch)