As the outbreak of new coronary pneumonia spreadfrom from China to the world and formed a “pandemic”, countries and regions are in a tight and desperate situation. In the area of epidemic prevention and control, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, China and other Chinese-dominated countries and regions have taken commendable and effective measures, not only effectively control the spread of the epidemic, but also by the World Health Organization and researchers widely recognized. In contrast, European countries, the United States and other countries have been slow to respond and policy is weak, so that China’s hard-fought epidemic-fighting efforts to win valuable time was wasted.
As of 24 hours on March 21, a total of 81,498 cases had been confirmed in China (including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan), including 153 cases in Taiwan, 273 cases in Hong Kong and 18 confirmed in Macao. A total of 385 cases have been confirmed in Singapore, and the outbreak has been well controlled. Although good results have been achieved in the prevention and control of the epidemic, the epidemic prevention policies of the Chinese community in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore are different. Comparing the four-area epidemic prevention policy will help to draw on each other’s strengths and learn from each other, and further improve the efficiency and effectiveness of epidemic prevention. Of course, the epidemic prevention and control involves all aspects, this paper mainly for the epidemic prevention and control of government departments used policy measures and scientific and technological means to compare.
The competition of Chinese society epidemic prevention in four places
The Who-China expert team gave high recognition to China’s epidemic prevention work, and team leader Bruce Aylward praised China’s “all-government, society-wide” prevention and control strategy as “the most magnificent, flexible and active prevention and control measures ever taken.” Government departments at all levels act decisively and policy effectively, the whole society has a strong collective will to cooperate with and support epidemic prevention, enterprises through scientific and technological innovation to help prevent the epidemic, which has made China in the epidemic prevention and control has made commendable achievements. At the same time, while the domestic epidemic has been basically prevented and controlled, government departments have accelerated efforts to promote the resumption of production by enterprises and to export China’s epidemic prevention capacity to other countries.
The Singapore government was regarded as a “Buddhist” in the early stages of epidemic prevention and control, but it was “inside the outside”. As early as January 2, when the new crown pneumonia was not named, Singapore had issued hygiene alerts to passengers from Wuhan asking them to seek urgent medical attention if they developed symptoms. The Government has adopted a number of effective epidemic prevention policies, both to ensure that the epidemic is under control, but also to prevent the lives and economic operation of the people from too much interference. Singapore’s disease response system was classified as a level four, and it was not raised from level three (yellow) to level two (orange) until February 7, and the highest level of red alert has yet to be activated. It was not until 22 March that the Singapore Government decided to “seal the country” from March 23, and that those who visit edgy would not be allowed to enter or cross the border in order to concentrate on the protection of the epidemic for its residents.
Hong Kong, China, in 2003 SARS period was a big impact, pain, the government in the outbreak prevention and control action quickly, and in the early stage struck a lot of severe measures. In particular, the Hong Kong Government has not adopted a one-size-fits-all policy of “total closure” on immigration, but has been implementing a current restriction policy since 30 January, gradually reducing the number of entry points in the Mainland and strengthening mandatory quarantine. On 7 February, the Hong Kong Government announced that from 8 February, mainland visitors would be required to undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days. If a violator is considered a criminal offence, he will be sentenced to six months’ imprisonment and a fine of HK$25,000. Of course, compared with the other three places, the challenges facing Hong Kong’s epidemic prevention are not small, such as the strike of medical staff on 4 February.
Taiwan in Taiwan in the outbreak prevention and control response is very fast, the local government did not because of the Spring Festival travel season and delay the epidemic prevention, which has effectively controlled the spread of the epidemic laid the foundation. The Taiwan authorities set up the Central Epidemic Command Center, which is mainly a member of the Department of Disease Control and Welfare, and raised the level of epidemic prevention to level 3, level 2 and 1 on 20 January, 23 January and 27 February, respectively, according to the need symevent. On February 25, the Taiwan authorities adopted the “Special Regulations on the Prevention and Revitalization of Severe Special Infectious Pneumonia and The Revitalization of The Bailofing”, severely sanctioning hoarding, anti-epidemic materials and spreading rumors. If the person in the home quarantine is exceptional, the maximum penalty is NT$1 million.
Comparison of the policy of home isolation of Chinese society in four places
The epidemic prevention and control policies implemented by the four governments differ in many aspects, considering that the current epidemic prevention and control is mainly concentrated in the external prevention and input link, so this paper mainly compares this. At present, all four places require 14 days of centralized or home isolation for overseas persons upon entry, but there are differences in the specific practices. Behind these different approaches, the Government should balance the effectiveness of epidemic prevention and control, economic operation, social stability and personal privacy protection, and take into account local medical, economic, social, scientific and technological factors.
As shown in Table 1, we can compare the home segregation policies of the four governments in terms of monitoring tools, inspection methods, penalties and privacy protections.
Table 1 Comparison of home isolation policies in four Chinese areas
Mainland China has strengthened the isolation and observation of migrants and immigrants across provinces, and controlled them through technical means such as “health code” and “epidemic prevention and control trip cards”. Behind these technologies are the collaboration between telecom operators, transportation operators and Internet companies to keep everyone’s footprint and close contact at work. At the same time, community managers to increase the control of home isolation, through grid management weaving on a leaky prevention and control network. However, the government departments have not clearly how to punish the offenders, the intensity of punishment also needs to be improved, so in the warning and deterrent effect still needs to be strengthened. At the same time, the initial outbreak of some Hubei personnel information leakage problem, the Central Network Information Office for this purpose issued a special “on the protection of personal information and the use of big data to support the joint prevention and control work notice.”
Singapore has been issuing a “home notice” for those in isolation from home since 18 February, after a leave notice for employees. If the offence is committed, it is punishable by up to six months’ imprisonment and a fine of S$10,000 (about 50,000 singaporedollars), while foreigners are released from their labour contracts and deported, and permanent residents are also stripped of their residency rights. The offending company will also be implicated (“sitting” and the government will cut or eliminate its quota for hiring foreigners). Government departments conduct daily surprise inspections by telephone, home visits and other means to ensure that those who are isolated at home are not allowed to break the law. On March 21st Singapore’s Ministry of Health launched a mobile app called TraceTogether, which its website says has been downloaded by 550,000 users. This community-centric close contact tracking tool collects user data via Bluetooth to ensure that personal privacy is protected.
Hong Kong, China, also makes it a criminal offence to impose a maximum fine of HK$25,000 (about Rmb23,000) and six months in prison for illegal home isolation. Government departments strictly prevent and control home isolation, in addition to spot checks on home visits, but also send electronic bracelets for monitoring. Mobile phones and bracelets only track, no GPS location does not collect personal data, so you can protect personal privacy.
In Taiwan, home-based quarantine officers face fines of up to NT$1 million (about Rmb234,000) if they go out of the country illegally. Earlier, there has been a violation of the door after playing “missing”, the government has been fined. Initially, in order to guard against unauthorized outings, home-isolated people need to use a dedicated mobile phone with GPS location. But because of the shortage, the government quickly switched to mobile phone apps for electronic monitoring. Once the home-isolated person is out without permission, the mobile phone will sound the alarm and be in the hands of the government.
Regardless of the measures and means taken, it is to ensure that home-based quarantiners are afraid to step up the mine pool, and their whereabouts can be controlled precisely and in a timely manner. China’s real-name system for residents’ mobile phone so that mobile phone signals can be used as a basis for tracking people, while the widely used weChat, Alipay and other mobile phone applications, provide sturdy data support. The ability to share data among government departments also provides a basis for multidimensional verification. At the same time, the general acceptance of this extraordinary measure also offers the possibility of rapid and widespread adoption of technologies such as “health codes”.
In contrast, the people of Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Taiwan attach great importance to the privacy of individuals, and related parties often face greater challenges in collecting personal data. The electronic bracelets introduced by the Hong Kong SAR Government of China only have epidemic-prevention tracking functions, but they cannot locate home-based quarantiners. Electronic bracelet is a one-time use, the cost is not high, home isolation can be used up. The launch of the mobile app in Singapore is related to the failure to share data from a number of local telecom base operators and to the government’s need to ensure that personal privacy is protected. Of course, for This method in Singapore to achieve the effectiveness of prevention and control, it must be downloaded and used by enough people to enable close contacts to be able to track.
What the Chinese community have in common in the prevention and control of the epidemic
On the whole, the Chinese community in the four places have a lot in common in the prevention and control of the epidemic.
First of all, the 2003 SARS outbreak on the impact of the four places are greater, which makes the Chinese community have painful memories, but also can learn lessons and strengthen the epidemic prevention and control capacity-building.
The common historical memory makes people not want to repeat the mistakes of the past, so the outbreak prevention and control can also arouse the government’s alarm and arouse popular consensus. In contrast, some countries in Europe regard new coronary pneumonia as a common flu in the early stages of the outbreak, and do not pay enough attention and are highly alert to it, resulting in passive and inefficient outbreak prevention and control.
Secondly, the Chinese community in all four places has a strong cultural tradition of collectivism, which enables the general public to unite and work together to prevent the epidemic. Although all will be affected by the western individualistic concept, but overall, the four places still maintain the Confucian culture based on the collectivism cultural tradition, people know more about the collective and social responsibility, but also can take responsible action to do a good job of epidemic prevention. People can understand, cooperate with and support the government’s measures to prevent and control the outbreak, and even make the necessary sacrifices for this, which has laid a solid social foundation for epidemic prevention and control.
Third, the government is responsible for the health of the people, and has a strong social control and mobilization capacity. Although there will be different starting points and degrees, but the four places in the epidemic prevention and control can be the first priority of the public health and safety, and take relevant measures to strengthen the epidemic prevention and control. Singapore was a British colony, and its socio-cultural and legal policies were deeply influenced by Britain. However, when the British government introduced irresponsible anti-epidemic measures such as “group immunization”, the Singapore government also criticized this. At the same time, governments in East Asia are generally “development-oriented countries” and governments have strong economic and social interventions, which enable them to mobilize and control outbreaks.
Finally, the four places are relatively sound medical and health systems, providing professional protection for epidemic prevention and control. Taking stock of the diagnosis and treatment of patients diagnosed with new coronary pneumonia in four places, the mortality rate was lower and the cure rate was higher. Behind this is strong support for the health system, especially community clinics and grass-roots epidemic prevention forces. Primary clinic is the first line of epidemic prevention and control, medical personnel do a good job of self-protection, and can timely and accurate report ingress the epidemic, in order to make the epidemic prevention work accurate and efficient. From the performance of the four health departments, basically have done this, so that the epidemic prevention and control has achieved good results.
The epidemic is changing at any time, the situation varies widely from place to place, so there is no optimal epidemic prevention and control policy, and as long as the most appropriate epidemic prevention strategy. However, taking stock of the epidemic prevention policies of the Four Places Chinese Society, especially the prevention and control measures for those who are isolated at home, we can see that each other can learn from each other and learn from each other. It is essential that epidemic prevention and control is only one aspect of economic and social development, and the government needs to take into account economic operation, social stability, privacy protection and other aspects, so as to achieve dynamic balance.
(Author Ma Liang is a researcher at the Institute of National Development and Strategy of Chinese Min University and a professor at the School of Public Administration)