Amidst the corona crisis when world is struggling to combat with global pandemic and scholars of world affairs is debating over the nomenclature of virus, South Korea deserves her share of appreciation. The country in North-east has again proved to be a miracle on Han.
The first positive case of Corona flu was confirmed on January 19 and along with China South Korea was the worst affected country in early stages of the outbreak at a time the total number of cases in South Korea was only second to China.
Besides, the old demographic dividend, population density and proximity to China had made her more vulnerable. Nevertheless, it defied all the calculations and again proved her abilities of coming out of a crisis like nothing ever happened. The success story of South Korea can set up modules to tackle the pandemics for the other countries those have experienced their early stage in last couple of weeks.
In an interview to a Indian daily South Korean ambassador to India says, “The Korean model, a vigorous regime of ‘trace, test, treat’ has shown remarkable results in controlling the spread and mortality of the novel coronavirus, without putting a nationwide lockdown in place, and depended on conducting many as 18,000 tests a day.”
The three Ts mentioned by the Korean ambassador was South Korea’s key to success. The Korean administration and researchers with its experience of 2003 SARS and 2015 MERS epidemic that hit South Korea, already knew that corona attack on their country is inevitable. Even before the first confirmed case in South Korea a South Korean biotech directed his employees to focus on developing the testing kit for COVID-19 on January 16th. South Korea took an aggressive approach to the issue and initiated mass testing of the population.
On the other hand government also maintained absolute transparency in sharing information with the public and thus gaining the trust of public and not resulting into a panic situation like other countries of the world. South Korea did witness certain challenges in the initial days of outbreak. Two patients in Daegu the first victim city died due to lack of availability of bed. The cluster outbreaks that resulted in a large number of cases per day with maximum 851 on March 3rd.
Sooner the government went for an aggressive approach they developed an app to trace the possible cases of infections. The app enabled GPS system that helped government to identify the area travelled by infected person and to quarantine them. It also enabled individuals to locate the corona cases near them to adopt preventive measures to safeguard themselves. Besides, it also helped the authorities to immediately identify the persons breaking quarantine measures. Moreover, on March 16th authorities started screening peoples at airport and on very next day March 17th South Korean government announced the subsidy of approximately 313 euros for basic living allowances for the people who will be in quarantine. On the other hand, despite having a globally recognized health care system with availability of beds double than that of OECD countries and triple than that of UK, Korean hospitals took the measure of providing treatment at residential centers for mild cases and clinical beds were reserved for critical ones to deal with the shortage of beds.
Today in Korea there are a number of walk in testing centers and negative pressure rooms for accurate and highest per capita testing of corona cases. The medical facilities of South Korea did facilitate its approach to check corona, but when compared with European countries, have proved that only availability of effective medical facility is not enough and the steps and approach of government is the most desired way to deal with the crisis. These efforts have led to a rapid decline in number of corona cases in South Korea and when the world is still struggling life in Korea is almost back to normal. I hope the countries still in first and second stage will get inspire with South Korea and will handle the situation from getting worse.
Written by Abhishek Ranjan. The author is a student of East Asian Studies at University of Delhi