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In Asia, bucking the global lockdown trend

37 Comments
By Jerome TAYLOR

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© 2020 AFP

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Taiwan did well. Lessons should be learned by other nations. We need a global playbook for next time something like this happens. Stamp it out before it even gets started.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Human lives are human lives. Nobody can cheat with human lives.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Human lives are human lives. Nobody can cheat with human lives.

Sagacious stuff. What kind of lives can we cheat with?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Basically, all these articles do is saying mainly that contact tracing is the way, despite also common sense says that it's not so trustworthy (if people let their phones at home, they can't be tracked). We are in the situation where we have IT companies CEOs saying to us like the emergency should be handled (naturally with solutions that give huge advantages to their business). If all this isn't a bit...oh well.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Can’t contact trace if a person doesn’t have a smartphone, leaves it at home, removes the battery etc. Not fool proof.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Bill Gates, a notorious epidemiologist, praised Taiwan's and other "tracing system Countries models". In Japan, CEOs like Son an Mikitani, other notorious epidemiologists, told what the government should do. When I said "epidemiologist", I was ironic, of course.

Countries like China and South Korea, are Countries where the society is almost completely cashless already. South Korea in particular. It looks like if your society is cashless and internet is widespread in your life, you can treat with coronavirus well. The Countries where IT technologies are less developed, and not because there's not the technical ability to do it, but because there is some resistance from the population, afraid for civil rights, privacy, tracing of any single payment, etc., are huge victims of this virus and failures. There's a lot of material for deep reflections...

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

@Luddite: exactly, if someone leaves the phone at home, he can't be traced obviously. He can cheat the authorities, because the tracing system will say he is at home, while he can go to spread the virus everywhere. Plus, there's always the possibility that some bugs can give incorrect data. These articles, that look like huge advertising for this kind of technology, don't consider absolutely the most obvious limits of this "tracing system" thing. It's all rainbow and unicorns. If they want to trace people seriously, besides using smartphones and digital payments, maybe they should implant some microchips in our bodies...At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if this became an idea.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

I'd like that people that praise these models told us how we are wrong when we say that there's the possibility that someone leaves the phones at home, or that the system have some bugs. But I guess they are not able to reply.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Someone could also say that today it's impossible to go out without your smartphone, but how Luddite said, someone could remove the battery, go to many different places, and put the battery only when he needs to call someone or check his emails.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

But, every political leader has his own exit strategy. Trump blames China and the WHO. Abe will provoke S. Korea. B. Johnson will enlighten us once recovered from the ICU.

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/07/opinions/terence-kealey-south-korea-listened-to-the-experts/index.html

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

@SJ: yeah, everyone should learn from South Korea, especially about how tracing people. Because when China does it, it's scary...but if it's South Korea...

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

After all, tracing system and a cashless society is always better than a complete lockdown. This is basically the message.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

This virus is REALLY bad, it's a tragedy. But I dont think the main solution is in IT technologies, and this looks to be the message. I think the key is in a strong and well prepared healthcare system, and civic education about public hygienic norms, including the use of masks, basically not existing in Europe before this pandemia. The situation in Europe is particularly bad because of the cuts made in the healthcare systems for years, probably in Countries like South Korea and Taiwan the healthcare system is in a way better shape. But I often see way more emphasis about the role of internet in succeeding against the virus than in having a functional healthcare system.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Taiwan didn't poo-poo the virus from the beginning

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Removing batteries isn't an easy option on most smart phones.

and they track your movements even when switched off.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Taiwan did good, so did S.Korea.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"It soon closed off all travel from China" as the article says, against WHO guidance. There were many quotes of experts saying that this would be counterproductive when the US did it also.

The bureaucratic organizations will have to adapt to the speed of these outbreaks much more nimbly in the future or they will wane in importance. Another example is the prescriptions of "off label" drugs being high in some countries with at least perceived effectiveness (Spain, Italy, etc) and the "wait for months of study before trying it" mentality in other countries.

The US alone has 3 or more agencies with thousands of fulltime workers, no need for a plan on the fly approach to these outbreaks. Which is what we have seen in every instance over the last decades.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@lostrune2

Taiwan didn't poo-poo the virus from the beginning

Yes. Taiwan did well with some luck.

https://thediplomat.com/2019/08/taiwan-slams-chinas-decision-to-freeze-individual-travel-to-taiwan/

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Ummm... contact tracing does not mean they track your mobile phone. It means they ask infected people who they have been in contact with recently and then they follow up with those people to test them and get them isolated.

And, there's more to it than contact tracing alone. It was the fast and decisive actions they took right from the beginning that made contact tracing effective and manageable. Japan has tried contact tracing and I do believe it has been a factor in the relatively slow spread so far. But Japan has not been fast or decisive and contact tracing won't work now the numbers are growing.

Finally, those knocking Bill Gates should really do a little research to understand why his name comes up a lot lately. He's been fighting to prevent this for years.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@Fuzzy: contact tracing implied also the tracking system by Internet. Anyway I prefer honestly articles how this one, in terms of analysis.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2020/apr/06/coronavirus-american-reaction-economy-covid-19

It's about the US, but every Country should ask itself where it actually failed in these years, especially in terms of healthcare and social equality. I think valuations of this kind are more important than how good IT technology can be in a pandemic.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

@Alex80

contact tracing implied also the tracking system by Internet

No, it's doesn't "imply" any such thing. You went on a rant about something you don't understand.

I think valuations of this kind are more important than how good IT technology can be in a pandemic.

This article has absolutely nothing to do with IT. Nothing.

You just saw "Bill Gates" and assumed it was IT. But even with Bill Gates mentioned, this has nothing to do with IT. Can you quotae one sentence from this article that has anything to do with IT?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It's hilarious that Korea is being hailed all over the world and press is covering how Korea is dealing with the pandemic but almost zero coverage from Japanese press. Really says a lot when Abe's Japan is more comparable to People's Republic of China rather than South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@Fuzzy

read this article please:

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00740-y

It explains what they mean by "contact tracing". It's exactly what I said.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

This article just adds more detail to the narrative that WHO is a puppet organization for a certain asia communist party led country. WHO failed all of the people who died with their policies and should be just be shut-down and replaced by a global health group which cares for all people.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

People always have doubts whenever China’s done something right. When China delayed reporting about the virus for a couple of weeks to confirm, those anti-China were up and about blaming China, but when China locked down cities of millions of people they stopped to think how serious the virus was. A couple of months lead time that China had provided to the world, the West just ignored and criticized China for human-rights violation. We are talking about the virus here that comes about from nature, it may happen in any country, with the advance in science we are now able to discover it sooner, but that does not mean it will not happen again. I found that the reasons why China and others with Chinese descents tend to do well in these crisis because of the sense of community and compliance, not individualism like in the West, and Chinese traditional medicines. All sorts of home remedy have been circling around in Chinese social media to help prevent the virus. In the West, they are using a step by step approach to tackle the virus which tends to kill a lot more people in the process. You can notice that they announced the use of face masks just recently, now they just admit that face masks can prevent the spread of the virus. I guess it is easier to blame other people than to admit your own mistakes.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@flowers: people are also in denial about what the "contact tracing" used in South Korea is actually, despite the article that I linked explains everything. The point is that how you said, if China uses this system, it's bad. If the same system is used in South Korea (whose government and society is anyway very different from a Western democracy, and strongly influenced by Confucianism), or in Singapore, which they forget conveniently being a totalitarian regime too, well this system is "good". These people's incoherence is so blatant and showed by their political bias.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Alex80: it’s the political bias, I agree. They assume that China’s figures cannot be trusted basing on the size of population in major cities, China should be showing more deaths. It’s basically a miracle that China only has about 3k deaths, that’s unthinkable for them. Not thinking that China had implemented all sorts of drastic measures to prevent the virus from spreading including tracking, tracing, and isolating. Using cell phone to track people movement is an effective method. We don’t have to think that this method is full of flaws, because people can just leave their cell phones at home, not thinking that Chinese people tend to have a higher rate of community and compliance. In time of crisis such as this, the main thing is to save people’s lives regardless of methods used. Freedom and democracy have to be thrown out of the window to save life. Unlike in the West, wearing face masks debate took weeks to get the results in the mean time so many people had died. The fear that people would be hoarding was taken as the main reason for the delay, how ridiculous that is.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Alex80

@SJ: yeah, everyone should learn from South Korea, especially about how tracing people. Because when China does it, it's scary...but if it's South Korea...

I think a difference of S. Korea compared with China, Japan and Singapore regarding the privacy concerns is that S. Koreans tend to lenient.

All S. Koreans have the residential ID numbers since birth like the SSN in the U.S, the stupid governmental officials requested to use those number in logging in and access online bank, tax and shopping sites. And all sites had to run in Windows XP with ActiveX. The consequence was that most of those numbers were repeatedly and completely stolen and sold by computer hackers around the world about 10-15 years ago. A joke here is that you can track the number and the name even in a remote area of India. The S. Korean government has sometimes inefficient in computer security, causing security fiascos such as hacking of online bank systems. But I should admit that the government has been trying to enhance it, it will take 10 years more. The point is that your personal digital information was already in public here in S. Korea.

Another different mindset of S. Koreans is that they do not fear Big Brother so much, as they have a history of toppling the government if they do not like them, for example, recently impeaching the president Park. Other east Asian countries do not have such memories. If the government becomes uncontrollable, S. Koreans can choose another one, or topple it. This is why the Moon administration emphasizes the transparency of the government. S. Koreans do not fear the central or local government, sometimes looking down government officials and police, which is contrary to China, Japan and other East Asian countries.

barbie~~

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@flowers: I don't think the tracking system is useful at all, unlike other things. But don't worry, it will be adopted also in Western Countries during "phase two"...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Wow, it’s nice to see that some places can really take care of this coronavirus situation, without having to close the restaurants and bars and stuff. And yeah, early testing and early action obviously made the difference.

So that way next time if this rolls around, if it should roll around again, we’ll know what to do so we won’t have to close so much of our economies over something that we knew how to take care of, since it happened before in this case. Because I know I sure as hell don’t want to have to go through this again, and I’m sure none of you do either.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Alex80

read this article please:

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00740-y

It explains what they mean by "contact tracing". It's exactly what I said.

You are confusing "contact tracing" with "tracking". They are separate things. SK did both. It's the "tracking" that you are objecting to. "Contact tracing" can (and usually is) done without any follow up "tracking".

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Fuzzy: read the article that I linked you, please.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@SJ: yeah, I got the feeling South Koreans don't care about their privacy at all. Look at this

https://m.koreatimes.co.kr/pages/article.asp?newsIdx=287621

I don't know why we need a "face pay" system... seriously, I don't even.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Alex80

@Fuzzy: read the article that I linked you, please.

I did. My response above is based on what I read in the article that you linked. Do you understand the difference between "tracing" and "tracking"? Do you understand they are different things? Contact tracing is an important tool to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and does not infringe privacy at all. It was used very effectively for SARS, MERS and Ebola outbreaks. Tracking was an additional strategy South Korea employed for SARS-COV-2 and I agree it can be abused and become an invasion of privacy. Tracking is the bit that can be abused and what you are concerned with. Tracing can be be done without tracking. Get it?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Fuzzy: no, you didn't read it, since they clearly spoke about contact tracing, made mainly by what you are calling tracking.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Fuzzy: European Countries are working for their own contact tracing apps. I will link this article about France

https://www.google.com/amp/s/techcrunch.com/2020/04/08/france-is-officially-working-on-stop-covid-contact-tracing-app/amp/

How you can see, European governments know how difficult is to make European people accept this kind of stuff, because we aren't Koreans or Singaporeans.

This article (it's in Italian, sorry) explains how the Italian tracing contact system will be different from the Korean one, so we can relax ourselves:

coronavirus_ecco_come_funzionera_la_app_italiana_per_combattere_la_pandemia-253498265/

Let's see what will happen. My point is that it's useless to compare South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore with Western democracies. It's not like European Countries don't have the technology to do what those East Asian Countries did. The main problem here is ethical, and it's about how the citizens feel about their personal rights and freedoms.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Sorry, this is the full link to the Italian article

https://www.repubblica.it/tecnologia/2020/04/08/news/coronavirus_ecco_come_funzionera_la_app_italiana_per_combattere_la_pandemia-253498265/

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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