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Why the Surge in Taiwan’s Coronavirus Cases? An Interview with Courtney Donovan Smith Ep 134

By Felicia Lin

A note from Talking Taiwan host Felicia Lin:

 There has been a surge in Taiwan’s coronavirus cases since about mid-May, and Taiwan is now on COVID alert level 3, one level before full lockdown. I’ve invited Courtney Donovan Smith on to Talking Taiwan to talk about what led to the increase in COVID cases, the current situation and what’s happening with Taiwan’s efforts to acquire COVID vaccines. Courtney Donovan Smith is the central Taiwan correspondent for ICRT News, and one of the co-founders of the Taiwan Report, which I highly recommend as a really great news resource for what’s happening in Taiwan.

Since Courtney and I spoke on June 3rd, Taiwan remains at COVID alert level 3, on Friday, Japan sent over one million doses of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to Taiwan, and the U.S. has promised to donate 750,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan.

Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:

  • The current situation and atmosphere in Taiwan since COVID cases started to spike
  • How the increase in COVID cases were linked to commercial airline pilots who stayed at the Novotel airport hotel
  • Taiwan is currently at COVID alert level 3
  • What does COVID alert level 3 entail
  • What’s happened since Taiwan has been at COVID alert level 3
  • How the increase in COVID cases in Taiwan are due to the more virulent UK variant of COVID
  • How one of the factors to determine whether Taiwan will go to level 4 (full lockdown), is the number of cases with unknown origin and what constitutes a case of known or unknown origin
  • Taiwan is tentatively going to remain at level 3 until June 14
  • Reasons for the low COVID vaccination rate in Taiwan
  • Why Taiwan has not been able to procure Pfizer vaccines from German firm BioNTech and what happened to the deal
  • What China’s Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group (which claims to handle the Greater China market which includes Taiwan) has to do with Taiwan’s efforts to access COVID vaccines
  • The Chinese made COVID vaccine
  • China’s interference in Taiwan’s efforts to secure COVID vaccines
  • China’s reaction to the Japan’s offer to donate vaccines to Taiwan
  • How China interfered with relief efforts during the 921 Earthquake in Taiwan
  • The most well-known cases of COVID outbreaks in Taiwan involving the Taipei Wanhua district teahouses and “Grape Mother”

Related Links:


Taiwan Report:


Taiwan Report News Brief – Covid conundrums:


Taiwan Centers for Disease Control press releases:


Taiwan tightens 5 rules under Level 3 alert:


Taiwan announces 1st local coronavirus case in 254 days (Latest domestic COVID-19 infection is woman who came in close contact with New Zealand pilot):


2 women in Taipei tea houses test positive for COVID:


Taiwan, feuding with China, gets vaccines from Japan:


‘Urgent need’: US to donate 750,000 Covid vaccine doses to Taiwan:

About the Host

Felicia Lin is the Host and Producer of Talking Taiwan, a podcast which seeks to introduce you to interesting stories connected to Taiwan and the diverse individuals who make up Taiwan’s global community.

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Her empathetic easy-going  yet deeply-informed style of conversation and mastery of the topics has elevated Talking Taiwan to the Top 5% of all podcasts in the World.
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