What has South Korea done to control the coronavirus COVID-19 spread? Part 1.

What has South Korea done to control the coronavirus covid-19 spread

At Medical Avenue, we would like to share what South Korea has done to control the coronavirus COVID-19 spread so far. This and the upcoming texts don’t pretend to be a lesson for anyone or to say all these measures should be applied everywhere. We understand that each country has its own rules and resources. The only intention here is to show the steps that Korea has taken to “flatten the curve”. To present how Koreans have implemented programs to minimize the damage, health-wise and economical. And to expose how the public and private sector have cooperated with clear goals.

The coronavirus COVID-19 path.

The coronavirus COVID-19 spread has reached every corner of the planet. What started in Wuhan, China, is now the reality of every single country. Along the last two months, the virus has moved in waves; as it reaches its peak and goes down at some places, the curve starts its way up at others.

For South Korea, the coronavirus COVID-19 spread began on January 19th, after the government reported the first case. Two and a half months later, at the moment of writing (April 3rd), Korea has communicated 10,062 cases. 6,021 have recovered, which accounts for 60% of the cases. In Seoul, the capital and a city of almost 10 million, the number of cases reached 506. Finally, the mortality rate currently sits at 1.7%.

Test, test, test: Korea’s first answer to control the coronavirus COVID-19 spread

All these numbers are certainly hard to look at: Many families have lost their beloved ones. Multiple small business’ owners are facing a dire economic crisis. The country is in constant stress. 

Being said that, Korea, as a whole, has fought with order, unity and collaboration. The measures taken by the government, and the cooperation of citizens and the private sector have set an example worthy of sincere praise.

Test, test, test: South Korea’s first answer to control the coronavirus COVID-19 spread

After confirming multiple cases in the city of Daegu on February 26th, the Korean Government took the decision to TEST everyone labeled “at risk”. That category included those who had COVID-19’s similar symptoms (cough, fever, hard breathing, etc), those who had been in contact with confirmed cases and even those who were at the places where cases were tracked.

This “massive testing” order came knowing the resources and capabilities of the healthcare system, the solid telecommunication infrastructure and the active mobile app development network inside the country. Nonetheless, it sure hasn’t been an easy task to put everything in place in such a short period of time.

From February 26th until today April 2nd, Korea has tested more than 430,000 people.

There have been several challenges in the middle. Starting with the nationwide coordination in between all the healthcare system parts. That includes labs, medical equipment manufacturing companies, special dispatch teams, first aid teams, ICU beds, medical staff (doctors, nurses, admins) and volunteers.

Under the command of the “Korea Centers for Disease Control & Prevention”, using established contingency protocols prepared after the SARS and MERS crisis, thousands of healthcare workers went into strategic tasks. Some teams were deployed with the clear goal of testing 10 to 20 thousand persons per day. That’s how the temporary drive-thru testing sites and other facilities came about. Other teams were set to track cases, systemize surveillance and information centers like the “1339 call center” and the GPS-based app to monitor people under quarantine order.

From February 26th until today April 2nd, Korea has tested more than 430,000 people. That is exactly on the average established as the initial goal. The “massive testing” measure has been crucial to fight the coronavirus COVID-19 spread inside the country. 

Although it is just one of multiple programs worth mentioning. The “test, test, test” policy is surely the first big answer from Korea Vs COVID-19.

Final word

We are preparing two more posts about the collaboration between companies, the government and citizens. We’ll try to tackle subjects such as the privacy rights Vs the community safety, the mobile technology and connectivity used as a tool, as well as talking about the hard balance between the economical impact and common well-being.

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