How South Korea won the battle sans lockdown
NEW DELHI: No cities have been locked down, no transport closed and international entry is still open. Well, that;s South Korea which has not only managed to flatten the curve of rising coronavirus cases in the country but has done a remarkable job of fully curing 41% of its 9,137 infected citizens, keeping the death count at just 131 as on Wednesday.
South Korea has discharged 3,730 of its 9,137 confirmed Covid-19 patients who have fully recoverd, Dr Lee Wang-jun, CEO of Myongji Hospital and chairman of Korean Hospital Association, said on Wednesdau at a specially organised webinar by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR). The video conference was organised by the UNDRR and the WHO for 900 disaster management and health specialists from 105 countries to learn from the Korean experience.
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Dr Lee explained the Korean strategy as containing four key policies. "The first policy is one of complete openness and transparency in sharing updated information on new infections throungh the Korean Centre for Disease Control, simultaneously with all stakeholders, including the media, on where, when and how the infections were discovered and investigated," a UNDRR report said.
The lessons learnt from the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in 2015 were handy, as a result there was no confusion among the public about the drills to be followed during a pandemic to avoid spreading the virus. "No cities have been locked down, no transport closed and international entry is still open," Dr Lee said
The second policy was containment and mitigation – tracking all suspect cases and tracing all confirmed ones.
Mitigation involved lowering the peak kf the outbreak through a social distancing campaign introduced just after the big outbreak in Dague at the end of February, Dr Lee said. Daegu, with a population of 2.5 million, reported 735 infections in a single day as against Seoul’s 75 with a population of 25 million. Korea has managed to rrestrict the community spread of Covid-19 to Daegu with 85% of all cases. Thoug it decided to close all schools and imposed voluntary restrictions on large gatherings, no cities were put under lockdown.
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“The fourth policy promoted massive screening and fasttracking of suspect cases, underpinned by accelerated production of diagnostic kits with a weekly diagnostic capability of 430,000,” Dr Lee said.
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