Taiwan, which had 5 local cases today (2/15), and 4 local cases yesterday (2/14) is a testament to the fact that strict border rules, paired with enforceable quarantine measures for those who enter the country, are some of the major keys to preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
Japan has followed a similar path for the better part of two years with strict entry requirements. Its success with the measures has meant that it the lowest number of deaths amongst all G7 countries, just below 21,000. This low number is despite having just under half the population of the US, whose total deaths right now number close to a million. Taiwan, whose policies are even stricter, has recorded only 851 COVID deaths in total. Even with those rules in place, holes have meant that the Omicron variant has gotten a foothold in Japan in recent weeks with spiking case numbers.
The administration of Japan’s PM Fumio Kishida has said in recent days that even while they are losing control, with more than 60,000 cases confirmed today, they intend to further lighten the border restrictions, particularly for business visitors, by shortening quarantine periods.
Such a move is precisely what preceded the spike in Taiwan’s case numbers at the end of 2021 as the government lowered the formal quarantine times and allowed 7 days of at home quarantine. Taiwan’s cases immediately spiked, although have reduced since their peak in recent days. Taiwan had zero local cases for months preceding this blunder.
The Prime Minister choosing to put the interests of business over public health also goes against public opinion, with the vast majority of Japanese people demanding that the border stay sealed for all foreigners, according to an NHK poll conducted last week.