As the Wuhan coronavirus rapidly spirals out of control in Taiwan, the popular discourse regarding the explosion in cases has become muddled as many question the inaction of the government and fatalistic approach to the looming deaths of hundreds if not thousands of Taiwanese.
Amidst a confusing double-speak from the government, which on one hand refused to implement controls on restaurants and bars, but on the other still refuses to acknowledge that their inaction might cause the virus to spread beyond their control, as deaths start slowly trickling out, many question whether a life lived in perpetual fear of infection and potentially long-term disability, or even death is really the freedom promised by those in favor of capitulating to this disease, a virus that has not even been in existence for three years, and yet collectively as a species have surrendered to in our weakness.
Polling shows that the vast majority of Taiwanese people still support strict measures to control the spread of the disease, but the public has also been relatively tolerant of the government’s obstinance in restricting high-risk activities to curb the spread, with no protests and little public outrage.
As Taiwanese look at places like New Zealand, which opened up recently and has recently seen deaths spike to several dozen per day in a small country which usually sees only fifty homicides a year in total, or the UK which took a hands off approach and still has deaths in the hundreds per day, they wonder the value of loosened restrictions.
Many in the UK, especially those older or immunocompromised find themselves still hesitant to engage in the same activities they once did, not because of government restrictions, but because of personal risk. As the rules are lifted and people have more choice, spiking numbers of deaths often leave the cautious, as many Taiwanese are, with less choice.
Such is the sacrifice that unelected CECC head Chen Shih-chung and the DPP have made, albeit against the interests and preferences of the Taiwanese people, but since when has any government ever cared what the majority of its citizens preferred?