On June 2, Taiwan hosted a video-conference with the U.S. and Canada to share its experiences and approaches to combating coronavirus (COVID-19). One of the participants was Anthony Weeks, who is the USVI special economic envoy to Taiwan and the Asia-Pacific Region.
Co-organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taipei City-based Taiwan Adventist Hospital, and local governments in Canada and the U.S., the event focused on how the Taiwan model could help mitigate challenges faced by participants in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. It was attended by officials, public health experts and medical professionals from the U.S. and Canadian governments.
Notable speakers included: President of Taiwan Adventist Hospital Dr. Hui-Ting Huang; Director General of Department of North American Affairs – Ministry of Foreign Affairs Vincent Yao; Director of Adventist Health Ministries Dr. Peter N. Landless; and Secretary of State of Mississippi Michael Watson.
A total of more than 90 participants took part in the seminar, including health directors, experts, scholars and medical staff from the U.S. East Coast and Midwestern states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Canadian government. The epidemic situation was heatedly discussed, and the meeting lasted nearly two hours.
Anthony Weeks said that during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in the United States, he immediately contacted the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affair (MOFA) Consulate Office (TECO) in Miami to better understand the depth and magnitude of this global health crisis and its impact on Taiwan.
“I made the request to MOFA to provide guidance and best practice advice to assist the USVI in being proactive, to better navigate the pandemic as a territory, and to mitigate the rate of potential COVID-19 infections to the people of the USVI.
“The success is seen in Taiwan as a result of their impressive management of the pandemic outbreak with only 443 cases of infection and 7 deaths in their country of 23 million people.
“In an effort to support the USVI and to share their successes, Taiwan donated 20,000 medical face masks to the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center. On Tuesday, 9-11 p.m. (EST), June 2, I arranged for 26 members of the USVI health and medical community, both from the public (GVI, DOH) and the private sector (doctors and community organizations) to participate in the Taiwan Government and Taiwan Adventist Hospital COVID-19 response’s online forum,” said Weeks.
V.I. Commissioner of Health Justa E. Encarnacion and her team were impressed with the presentation and statistics shared. She said, “It was obvious that they drafted and implemented an early strategically sound mitigation plan that included key stakeholders with the resources needed to fully execute each level of the plan.”
Cncarnacion also said, “The presentation reinforced that the USVI’s response is effective, and our efforts are working as we too began our strategic approach to mitigating the transmission of COVID-19 as early as January 2020, and thanks Ms. Weeks for allowing us the opportunity to hear from the Taiwan Government and Taiwan Adventist Hospital.”
VITEMA Director Daryl Jaschen, Commissioner Justa Encarnacion, and Juan F. Luis Hospital Acting CEO Dyma Williams assisted in coordinating the local efforts.
In addition, Senate President Novelle Francis, Department of Finance Commissioner Kirk Callwood, members of the USVI Territorial Hospital Board, St. Croix Foundation CEO Deanna James and others participated in the presentation.
This is a result of the ongoing Economic Bilateral Relations cooperation resolution between Taiwan and the USVI, and the leadership of Gov. Albert Bryan Jr., and Senate President Novelle Francis and members of the 32nd (Senators Myron Jackson, Kurt Vialet and Sammuel Sanes) and 33rd VI Legislature for passing the resolution.
Special thanks to the Taiwan Government (MOFA) and the TECO Consulate in office in Miami for their continued support and generosity to the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands.