South Korea saw a sudden increase of confirmed patients in the early stages of the COVID-19 emergency as a result of mass infection by a specific religious group. In response, the Korean government promptly provided a supply of diagnostic kits based on the “Emergency Use Authorization System” that was introduced in 2017 to respond to the situation with quick diagnoses of numerous test subjects. Furthermore, the government enforced prompt testing with drive-through screening stations, quick and intense quarantine measures, tracking of confirmed patients’ paths of movement, and quickly provided transparent information. Through such a systematic and quick handling of the situation, the number of patients in quarantine continues to decrease with the current recovery rate at about 50%. The World Health Organization and foreign press consider South Korea a model case of a nation’s response to COVID-19.
A 24-hour countermeasure team was operated immediately following the outbreak of the first confirmed patient in Seoul, and in addition to discovering patients quickly, the city has made all-out efforts to prevent local spread through the self-quarantine of individuals who have come into contact with confirmed patients, the social distancing campaign, and concentrated management of high-risk groups. All related information is transparently revealed to the public and close cooperation is practiced with provincial cities experiencing grave circumstances as an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within Seoul and throughout the entire country of South Korea.
Critical rules to observe for stopping the spread of COVID-19 include transparently announcing information and responding quickly. In order to abide by these rules, the Seoul Metropolitan Government opened and operates a Korean website that offers information to locals and also opened an English website on March 25 for foreigners as means of speedily providing information on the COVID-19 situation.
The English website can be reached by clicking on this link: http://english.seoul.go.kr/covid/.
The website offers:
① Daily Reports: Transparent information such as a dashboard on the current state and a log of confirmed patients’ paths of movement
② Screening Clinic: Information on drive-through screening stations and walk-in screening centers, as well as the list of Hospitals in Seoul where COVID-19 testing is available.
③ Countermeasures: COVID-19 Timeline, Seoul’s countermeasures for COVID-19, and various financial support.
④ Information for Foreign Visitors: Special entry procedures, and broadcast/information with COVID-19 updates related to foreign visitors
⑤ News & PR Campaign: News reports that show global aspects of how South Korea is dealing with the COVID-19 Crisis, and PR Campaign.
⑥ Cities Network: FAQ, COVID-19 Q&A, and List of COVID-19 medical suppliers.