“An interview with Taiwanese Digital Minister Audrey Tang shows the way to making elimination of COVID-19 affordable through a Wellbeing Approach,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“ACT has been saying for months that New Zealand should look to Taiwan’s approach to managing COVID-19. I have said many times that we should be putting our smartest experts on plane to Taipei to find out how they achieved 12 times fewer deaths per head of population without lockdowns. On their return, New Zealand should look to emulate the Taiwanese approach.

“Tang identified hand hygiene, distancing, masking, and better use of technology as critical components of maintaining elimination without the need for damaging and expensive lockdowns. They also identified hefty fines for violations and a focus on monitoring the mental wellbeing of those in isolation.

“New Zealand now faces the impossible choice of lifting restrictions despite continued community transmission in Auckland, or continuing restrictions that are decimating small business and the economy. We face this dilemma because of ongoing Government incompetence in executing its strategy, and a failure to adopt a better strategy.

“If we want to enhance wellbeing, we must stop comparing ourselves with the worst and start striving to be the best.

“Taiwan didn’t go hard and go early. It went smart and much earlier than New Zealand. While Jacinda Ardern was visiting Fiji in late February, the Taiwanese response had been fully implemented for a month.

“Taiwan should have been a COVID-19 disaster. It has a high population density and is deeply integrated with China. But it achieved just seven deaths, outperforming New Zealand by a factor of 12, without any lockdowns.

“Our Government has compared us with Sweden, as if that country’s approach is the only alternative. That’s an indulgent mistake. We must seek to emulate Taiwan, the clear winner on a wellbeing basis.

ACT’s Wellbeing Approach learns from Taiwan and includes:

• New Zealand Epidemic Response Unit: Based on Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Centre
• Government as referee, not player: Allow alternative facilities for safe, electronically-monitored isolation, with strict punishment for rule-breakers
• Risk-weighted: Treat different countries and travellers with different levels of caution
• Technology-driven: Such as COVID card, ëlarm, rapid tests, temperature checks and thermal cameras
• Continuous improvement: Constantly compare ourselves with the best and seek to strengthen our resistance.

“If we want to enhance New Zealanders’ overall wellbeing, we must get a lot smarter. A Party Vote for ACT is a vote to tackle COVID-19 intelligently.”