BY: CLAIRE KIM
Earlier this year, on January 20th, South Korea reported its first case of the coronavirus. Little did they know that this was only a sample of the pandemic; an eruption of cases would occur in approximately one month.
By late February, cases reached the thousands. Over 900 cases were reported daily and the country shut down schools and other organized communities frantically. At this point, Korea was making its name as the second most concentrated region of the coronavirus, steadily following up China’s massive yield, from earlier, in December 2019. Disappointments and apprehension surrounded the virus-infested country, so much so that news articles all around the globe recognized Korea as a part of the domino effect of the coronavirus.
Now, however, Korea is making its name differently. They are being recognized as the country that flattened the curve within weeks of being infected. They have accomplished a feat that no other country has been able to achieve, hitting single digits in cases that have been reported since late March. Even more commendable is their low mortality rate throughout the whole process: 2.23%, accounting for a total number of only 237 deaths. With such great statistics, several countries have taken interest in Korea’s COVID-19 protocol which, to the shock of many, doesn’t involve any nation-wide shutdown.
In fact, their protocol lies in three words: test, trace, and contain.
While countries like France and Italy have initiated nation-wide shutdowns, closing businesses and large companies, South Korea has not promoted any change to this extremity amidst their COVID-19 combat. Instead, Korea has pushed towards a more direct approach in which testing is the number one priority. Setting up mobile testing booths throughout the country and taking advantage of technology to interact with patients and the CDC, Korea pursued a diligent testing program that allowed data of the virus to be collected in real-time which further led to more precise health treatment.
Another seemingly minor, yet important aspect of their COVID-19 confrontation is their ability to stay calm throughout the pandemic. Instead of promoting hoarding behavior and paranoia, the country settled on a more realistic perspective in which time and medical attention can overcome such a novel virus. This mindset truly revolutionized their quarantined-situation.
By undergoing such intensive investigations, Korea has been able to account for thousands of infected citizens efficiently and effectively. Other nations should take note of Korea’s tactics if a desire to flatten the curve is evident.