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South Korea’s Strategy to limit the number of Coronavirus cases

Image source: Reuters.

 

The pandemic of Covid-19 has panicked the planet earth. Though invisible; the new coronavirus has greatly limited the movement of people worldwide. From economy to agriculture, from transportation to communication network, from bilateral trade to multinational firms; everything is getting effected out of Covid-19.
Situation for Pakistan 
The pandemic has limited the movement of people in developing as well as developed countries. About 1291 cases of coronavirus have been reported in Pakistan as yet. Only 21 have recovered so far, and 9 dead.

      Professor Javed Akram, vice-chancellor at the University of Health Sciences in Lahore, told the BBC that domestic transmission within Pakistan was now his main concern.

                 The exact number of cases in Pakistan, as elsewhere in the world, was likely to be far higher than had been recorded, because of a lack of testing capacity, he added. So far, about 6,000 tests have been performed, while Pakistan’s population is over 207 million.

Number of infections
Globally, more than 500,000 people have now contracted the new coronavirus. At least, more than 83,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the USA.
           The number of reported cases in the U.S. have now surpassed Italy, which has reported nearly 8000 deaths due to pandemic of Coronavirus. Europe is second epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic after China’s city Wuhan.
 The worst thing is that the case counts, and deaths are still soaring in Italy, Spain, France, and Germany, and many countries have imposed lockdowns and shut borders.
Medical staff wearing protective gear take samples from a driver with suspected symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus, at a “drive-through” virus test facility in Goyang, north of Seoul. Photo: AFP

 

The Haj Pilgrimage
More than two million people perform the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca every year. This year the Hajj is due to take place in July, and as the spread of coronavirus shows no signs of abating, many people fear that the Hajj may have to be cancelled.
The Hajj, however, has been cancelled many times before in Islamic history due to disease, conflict, the activities of bandits and raiders.
The Saudi King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives, last week, released a statement noting 40 times in history during which the Hajj was either cancelled or the number of pilgrims was extremely low.
South Korea’s Strategy 

In such daring trends, South Korea has emerged as a sign of hope. The country with 50 million appears to have greatly slowed its epidemic. The Democratic Republic of South Korea has done so without locking down entire cities or taking some other aggressive measures.

The strategy behind the country’s success has been the most expensive and well-organized testing program in the world. The country has also isolated infected people, traced, and quarantine their contacts.

According to the Worldmeter website, South Korea has tested more than 270,000 people, which amounts to more than 5200 tests per million inhabitants—more than any other country except tiny Bahrain.

Raina MacIntyre, an emerging infectious disease scholar at the University of New South Wales observed that South Korea’s strategy shows that diagnostic capacity at scale, and contact tracing are crucial to epidemic control.

 

Number of cases are declining largely because the herculean efforts of the country to investigate such a large number of people. New cases are still emerging and are linked to the community based circulation of Covid-19.

South Korea, probably, learned the importance of preparedness from MERS epidemic. Back in 2015, a South Korean businessman came back with Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) after returning from a visit to a number of Middle Eastern countries.

Before he was diagnosed with MERS and isolated; he’s treated at three different health facilities in South Korea. By then, he had set off a chain of transmission.

The epidemic infected 186 and killed 36, including many other patients, visitors, and hospital staff. Tracing, testing, and quarantining thousands of people quashed the MERS outbreak after 2 months.

Legislation enacted since then gave the government authority to collect mobile phone, credit card, and other data from those who test positive to reconstruct their recent whereabouts, Science Magazine reported.

That information, stripped of personal identifiers, is shared on social media apps that allow other users to determine whether they may have crossed paths with an infected person.

After the novel coronavirus emerged in China, Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) raced to develop its tests and cooperated with diagnostic manufacturers to develop commercial test kits.

Quarantine violators face up to $2500 fines. If a recent bill becomes law, the fine will go up, and as much as a year in jail.

South Korean government advised people to wear masks, wash their hands, avoid crowds and meetings, work remotely, and to join online religious services instead of going to churches. Those with fevers or respiratory illnesses are urged to stay home and watch their symptoms for 3 to 4 days.

South Korea has now doubled a planned economic rescue package to 100 trillion won ($80 billion) to save companies hit by the coronavirus. The package includes 29.1 trillion won in loans to small- and medium-sized companies.

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