By Santosh Khadka / Today the whole world is suffering from the novel coronavirus (COIVD-19) pandemic. As of Wednesday, 3,728,047 people were infected with the virus and 258,356 died and around 1,242,500 were recovered from the disease.
Most countries are now implementing a lockdown and trying to fight a battle with this virus. The United States “obtained” the number one position in the world as having the largest number of infected people from the pandemic.
Similarly, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and other European countries, the Middle East, Canada and other powerful countries are suffering more from the coronavirus than other undeveloped countries.
After China, South Korea once emerged as the new epicenter of the outbreak. The disease suddenly began to explode in Korea on Feb. 18. On Feb. 23, President Moon Jae-in raised the coronavirus alert to the highest level and enforced strict quarantine measures in affected cities and provinces, but the virus had already spread across the country.
But the troubling trend quickly reversed. From March 6, South Korea began reporting declining numbers of new cases, with daily increases dropping to the dozens. Now the country reported two new cases and one death Wednesday in a clear sign of a slowdown in the spread of COVID-19, bringing the nation’s total infections to 10,806.
South Korea has shown there is another way to bring the disease under control. Businesses across the country have largely carried on, and no city has been locked down. With new cases declining, life in South Korea is returning to normal.
Also the COVID-19 strategy propeled the ruling party to a record poll victory. By winning a landslide in the April 15 general election, with President Moon’s Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) securing a record absolute majority in the National Assembly. South Korea has been widely praised for checking the spread of the coronavirus.
Let’s discuss this. What is the secret and miraculous reason behind the victory over the coronavirus in South Korea?
South Korea learned the importance of preparedness the hard way after the 2015 outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). The country reacted swiftly when the virus hit the country, implementing an effective policy of tracking and tracing, physical and electronic surveillance of infected people and followed by extensive testing, isolation and treatment.
Systematic testing is the second factor in South Korea’s success. Hospital pioneered coronavirus testing booths. Since the start of the outbreak, the authorities have set up 118 laboratories and 633 testing sites, including pop-up facilities and drive-through clinics. In addition to mass testing, tight quarantine measures also helped to slow the spread of the virus.
The government set up dedicated facilities for patients at different stages of the disease to reduce the burden on hospitals. Since then, hotels and dormitories have been used as makeshift wards and quarantine sites for patients with mild symptoms or who are suspected of infection, under centralized observation.
The authorities track, isolate and monitor each individual case using various technological tools.
Social distancing and public’s cooperation
To keep people safe from the coronavirus, the first step is social distancing. But it’s not easy to maintain or keep a social distance properly. But South Korea has used social distancing as a main strategy tool to win against the coronavirus and has been tremendously successful.
The whole world may be shocked to know this truth because people in the most powerful and advanced countries are unable to keep a social distance from each other.
People are even protesting against their government restricting them from going outside because they need access to services, one example being haircuts. South Korea has so far been victorious due to the Korean people’s general social compliance; what some have called “social discipline.” Korean people for the most part followed government instructions. Due to the public’s support, Korea has thus far succeeded in controlling the coronavirus in a relatively short period of time.
Effective healthcare policy
The South Korean government not only offers free coronavirus testing to all people here, including migrants, but also supports the treatment costs for those who return positive test results.
Testing and treatment support even extends to illegal aliens; those without a valid visa. This government policy for migrant workers and foreign residents has been effective. The whole country has made significant progress in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
Santosh Khadka (email@example.com) is a doctoral degree candidate in SunHak Universal Peace Graduate University, South Korea, president of the Forum of Nepalese Journalists, South Korea Branch, editor at Kamdar Dainik (kamdardainik.com) and marketing manager of Staremit, South Korea)