South Korea is a success story in epidemic management

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Few countries have gained as much with the coronavirus epidemic as South Korea: a soft power, at least in terms of country image, Seoul has plenty to celebrate. In the spring, articles on the successes of the Asian country were published in Hungary, which affected Hungarian readers who were quarantined and worried about their health and existence. While the first wave of the coronavirus in Hungary has been met with harsh, economically torturous epidemiological measures, South Korea has handled the situation relatively painlessly, without closures or quarantines.

According to recent statistics, Seoul also successfully coped with the second wave. Although the epidemic curve began to rise again in August, the Asian country, with a population of about 52 million, currently registers between 60 and 70 cases per day.

The South Korean government is also responding to the international interest surrounding the success. The Chatem House British Institute of Foreign Affairs and The Korea Foundation provided further training for Asian researchers, and Index was the only Hungarian guest to attend the workshop. At the two-day event, experts in epidemiology and security policy in Seoul talked about their experiences, the most important lesson of their report was, above all, that

This was also revealed by a presentation by Joung Me Je, a South Korean expert from the World Health Organization (WHO). As former director of the Korea Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Jioung Me Je also contributed to building an effective crisis management system. As he said, at the outbreak of the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Coronavirus Outbreak) in 2015, the legal framework for effective epidemic management was established.

However, as the South Korean expert pointed out, in many places in the press, the fourth ‘T’, also important, transparency.

– said Joung Me Je; according to the expert, the whole procedure is essentially based on the trust of citizens. The provision of data for contact research is largely voluntary, and the data owner, the citizen, only trusts the government that handles the data if the whole process is done in the spirit of transparency.

Before we get into contact research and transparency, let’s look at how the first two “Ts,” that is, testing and healing, happen. It was also said at a joint event between Chatham House and The Korea Foundation that 15 to 20,000 tests will be performed in South Korea every day. According to the regularly updated state epidemiological information portal, which is also available in English, more than 2,352,000 times have been tested so far. An important element of the Asian country’s test capacity is the establishment of some 600 test centers for citizens and stations similar to the metal detector scans used at airports to carry out rapid tests.

South Korea has come to the fore not only with its relatively rapid crisis management, but also with keeping deaths low and keeping the number of people recovered high. A total of 24,000 164 cases were registered in the Asian country, of which

In comparison, 31 thousand 480 infected people were registered in Hungary, and only 8 165 thousand patients have been officially healed so far. And 833 people died of the coronavirus.

According to Joungme Je, two important aspects must be met in order to effectively treat the disease.

and patients with mild, moderate, severe and life-threatening symptoms should be treated separately. Another important element is the integration of social institutions into the epidemic management system: this ensures that no focal points develop in, for example, nursing homes, which were previously a major problem in Hungary as well.

However, the South Korean system can become a prime example in terms of contact research and data management. We have already written at the Index that epidemiological investigations are in their infancy in Hungary, despite the fact that the health care profession has noticed the importance of the field in time: although the University of Debrecen system.

Nothing better than the chart made by the Seoul expert shows how mature this system is:

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