South Korea reported 78 new coronavirus cases on Monday, 30-March, keeping the rate of infections kinda steady. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said the national tally stood at 9,661, while 5,228 people had recovered.
Daegu, just over a thousand kilometres from Wuhan, the epicentre of the pandemic, is one of the most affected. However, less than 2% of the patients died.
The number of confirmed cases per day as per Korea Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (KCDC). [Date: 23.03.2020]
Last February 29, just like Italy, COVID-19 seemed to be out of control in South Korea with 909 new cases in 1 day. On March 23 (3 weeks later) the number of new cases was 64, an unprecedented success without imposing any total quarantine.
Since January 20, when the first patient was announced, 9,661 people have contracted the virus, of whom 158 have died. 86% of them were aged 60 or over, and most were suffering from other diseases.
There are several early actions taken by the Korean Government.
First action was to ban entry of travellers from Hubei (China) and check the temperature of travellers from the rest of the world at the airport. On arrival, one had to download an app where, for 14 days, where they had to indicate how they felt and record their temperature. If data was omitted, the health authorities would immediately visit the patient. In Spain, any restriction or control of people who entered the country was conspicuous by its absence, since according to health experts, it was a useless measure.
Second key factor was the relatively extensive testing. The population was screened for broad symptoms, and if there was any doubt, they were tested. Any detected positives meant that every one the person came into contact with was tested. South Korea was the king of testing, and its priority policy was the so-called 3T — Test, Trace and Treat.
Status of domestic reports and inspections (23-Mar as of 0.00, cumulative since 3-Jan). [Source: KCDC]
To conduct so many tests, the Government asked for the collaboration of companies and private laboratories. Drive-ins were established to be able to carry out screenings quickly and safely outside the medical centres. In Spain, our experts considered that it was absurd and counterproductive to test massively.
Key was also the phase of tracing in a rigorous way the contacts of confirmed cases, any contact close to a confirmed case entered immediately into quarantine. Their health was followed by doctors twice a day via an app. Any deaths from pneumonia in the previous weeks were considered a potential positive for COVID-19 and their contacts were traced.
Third critical factor was dividing the country’s hospitals into 2 groups — 69 hospitals were dedicated exclusively to receiving coronavirus patients and were emptied, the rest of the country’s hospitals are free of patients with COVID-19.
One way to prevent the infection from spreading throughout the country’s healthcare system. In Spain, at no time has coronavirus patients been separated and grouped together in hospitals. The result has been that the entire country’s healthcare system has become a significant source of infection.
In Korea, the decision was made early that any case coronavirus symptoms should be diagnosed before entering and being admitted to the hospital. So spaces were set up near hospitals to test suspected patients.
All positive cases that were not to be hospitalized because they did not show severe symptoms were quarantined in government-designated facilities. In Spain, the Government decided to isolate them at home with the associated risk of community transmission.
Coronavirus: Inside a Covid-19 intensive care unit in Seoul. It does look space age. [Source: BBC News]
In this link, you can find the document prepared by the South Korean Government explaining the measures they took.
The result is a low lethality of COVID-19 and an unscathed economy that never had to go into forced shutdown. 😎
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