Well-Being Prevention & Cures

How South Korea is handling the coronavirus outbreak better than other countries

korea coronavirus testing
A “drive-through” virus test facility in Goyang, north of Seoul, on Feb. 29, 2020 Getty Images

Story at a glance

  • Testing is widely available in South Korea, with about 15,000 people getting sampled every day.
  • The South Korean government is open about information.
  • South Koreans are practicing social distancing.

There are nearly 8,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Korea, with the first case reported on Jan. 20. On Friday, the country reported more recovered cases than new cases for the first time. One of the main reasons South Korea is handling the coronavirus outbreak well is that testing is widely available.

People in South Korea can get swabbed for testing in drive-thru clinics, which can reduce the burden on hospitals and reduce risk for health workers. A biotech company in the country developed a test within three weeks, according to CNN.

Individuals who would like to be tested for the virus and get the backing of a doctor can request one, making it easy and accessible. There’s a network of 96 laboratories that process the samples, with testing being a major priority. 

“Detecting patients at an early stage is very important,” South Korea’s health minister Park Neunghoo told CNN.

Another factor in how South Korea is dealing with the situation is that the government is making information public. For example, the GPS locations of people confirmed for COVID-19 is available on an app so that others can avoid those areas. As questionable as that may be from a privacy standpoint, it may help people feel informed and in control of their health.

South Korea has also been practicing social distancing to try to stem an increase in cases. With a population of about 51 million people, they’ve closed schools and offices and canceled large gatherings. There are thermal imaging cameras at entrances to buildings and people in costume in public spaces reminding others to wash their hands, according to BBC.

People in South Korea have also seemingly benefited from open communications from their government and health officials, as multiple countries push for more accessible testing to help public health authorities stem the virus’s spread