The Republic of Korea, since the outbreak of the first confirmed case of COVID19 in early January, has ceaselessly conducted coronavirus containment measures nationwide. The epidemic initially seemed to have been under control with immediate disinfection effort only until the subsequent mass infection linked to a certain religious group broke out. Now, all government agencies – central and municipal – are implementing the comprehensive measures for disease control and prevention.
It is understandable that there are many concerns over the rapid growth of confirmed cases in Korea. However, I must say that as rapid as it may seem, we are identifying and quarantining infected individuals as quickly as possible. The big discrepancy in number compared to other countries comes from fast testing of symptomatic patients among a series of measures we have taken, which include prompt quarantine and intensive treatment, contact tracing and transparent information sharing. With such quick and systematic measures in place, coronavirus death rate in Korea stands at 0.69%, much lower than the global average of 3.5%.
Already, our effort has been recognized by major media outlets around the world saying that Korea is a ‘democratic but well-disciplined society’ and may offer a practical model of disease control and prevention. The World Health Organization (WHO), referring to our drive-through testing stations, commended Korea’s disease control system and at the US House committee hearing, some mentioned that they would like to get tested at the mobile testing site in Korea.
The city of Seoul, too, has been taking exhaustive containment measures in our fight against COVID19. Once a confirmed case is reported, the patient is put under quarantine and receives treatment. While the possible contaminated areas are being disinfected, the patient’s movement is publicly disclosed to minimize further contact, and those who came into close contact with the carrier are being tested and advised to self-quarantine.
Moreover, the Seoul Metropolitan Government continues to closely monitor developments related to the virus in the city under the Virus Prevention Task Force operating around the clock. We have also set up several drive-through test facilities and recently launched a ‘social distancing’ campaign to encourage citizens to avoid physical contact with others. As the key to infectious disease control is aggressive and transparent information sharing, the SMG discloses all the detailed information related to the virus outbreak while maintaining the cooperation with the foreign embassies and communities in Korea.
Mayor of Seoul