Adopts aggressive testing strategy . . .
Analysts and journalists have frequently cited South Korea as having set the global standard for effective counter-outbreak measures without resorting to China’s harsher restrictions. South Korea has managed to lower the number of daily outbreaks from 813 during its peak at the end of February to 78 as of March 30. It has conducted 395,194 tests in the process.
Lessons from agile government response . . .
Arguably, South Korea has made COVID-19 testing more accessible than anywhere in the world. The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) has set up 581 testing centres, as well as 80 drive-through centres, across the country. Further, following the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak in 2015, it established a policy for the rapid evaluation and testing of infectious diseases. It allowed for a small number of companies to obtain emergency approval to produce and distribute testing kits early in a crisis. The companies have produced 14,000 coronavirus testing kits weekly, and South Korean residents have been able to get tested for COVID-19 as needed. Testing has been free for those who have shown symptoms or have been deemed to be high risk, while tests for asymptomatic people cost C$185.
Greater public trust . . .
The availability of testing in South Korea has boosted public trust in its health-care system. Initially, the aggressive approach to testing was criticized for being excessive and for creating a negative image for the country, as it yielded an extremely high number of confirmed cases on a daily basis. However, in light of the rapid growth in confirmed cases in Italy, Spain, and the U.S., South Korea is seen both domestically and internationally as one that prevented a runaway spreading of the disease. In Canada, meanwhile, testing is limited to specific groups (e.g. travellers, health-care workers, and those showing severe symptoms) due to constraints on institutional resources, the availability of test kits, and differing provincial circumstances.
- Ministry of Health and Welfare: Coronavirus Disease-19, Republic of Korea
- NPR: How South Korea reined in the outbreak without shutting everything down
- Science Magazine: Coronavirus cases have dropped sharply in South Korea. What’s the secret to its success?