This is a press release.
Korea pulls all stops, mobilizes the country, and leads nations after waging a war against pandemic COVID-19 that has gripped the globe this 2020.
Although Korea made headlines for being one of the countries with the largest number of confirmed cases of pandemic COVID-19, totaling to 7,869 as of March 12, the government addressed the incident, putting “trust” into a whole new level. This effort did not go unnoticed by the international media and the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a news conference at his organization’s headquarters in Geneva, commended how Korea responded to the virus.
“The Republic of Korea has increased efforts to identify all cases and contacts, including drive-through temperature testing to widen the net and catch cases that might otherwise be missed,” he said.
“Of the four countries with the most cases, China is bringing its epidemic under control and there is now a decline in new cases being reported from the Republic of Korea. Both these countries demonstrate that it’s never too late to turn back the tide on this virus,” he added.
The COVID-19 situation in Korea began from a specific regional cluster, particularly Daegu and North Gyeongsang province where, according to Korea’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (KCDC) data, accounts for 7,010 confirmed cases. While the confirmed cases in the other areas of the country amounted to 859, at about 10.9% of the total cases, total tested individuals as of March 12 are 234,998 persons, according to KCDC.
TRUST is characterized by Transparency, Robust Screening and Quarantine, Unique but Universally Applicable, Strict Control, and Treatment.
In lieu of its belief that timely and accurate data can combat the further global spread of the virus, Korea’s complete transparency can be seen through the instantaneous release of their daily testing at the KCDC’s website, which amounted to 19,000 per day. The aggressive testing included the asymptomatic persons who came in contact with the confirmed patients.
Korea also implemented robust and effective screening and quarantine measures while minimizing restrictions placed on movement of people. The government quickly tested, approved, and ramped up production of domestically developed diagnostic kits. Instead of introducing an entry ban on inbound travelers, Korea implemented a Special Entry Procedure aimed at enhancing health monitoring of travelers coming from certain areas and countries with higher risks, which allowed minimizing the risk of expansion of disease without an outright entry ban.
The travelers returning from affected countries are required to install the “Self-Diagnosis App” on their smartphones and submit their health status every day for 14 days. If they show early symptoms of infection for more than two consecutive days, the KCDC and local authorities will take follow-up measures.
The innovation to counter COVID-19 did not stop there as they also implemented unique but universally applicable testing procedures through the Korea-pioneered drive-through testing stations, which earned praises from various international media outlets, including CNN and BBC.
Around 50 of those instant testing areas were spread throughout the country, which allow drivers to register and provide samples in under 10 minutes without needed to get out of their vehicles.
The city and district governments also partnered with mobile telecommunication companies in order to send emergency alerts to anyone in the vicinity of confirmed hotspots, thereby ensuring that the public is informed as quickly as possible.
Aside from that, mobile apps were developed to allow users to avoid known hotspots, providing detailed information about the exact location and time of the visit by confirmed COVID-19 patients.
Strict control was also imposed on individuals who have been in contact with confirmed cases from exiting Korea during the 14-day self-quarantine period.
Finally, the treatment for anyone confirmed are free, including for foreigners who may need care, while those under self-quarantine at home are also paid living expenses to help offset lost wages.
Korea has also focused on the expeditious recovery of those infected with COVID-19 through its advanced medical care.
Through all these, Korea is looking at putting an end to the pandemic as a nation and to learning and innovating further after COVID-19’s attack.