Why Korea has more COVID-19 cases than elsewhere
Feb. 29, 2020
Global Korean Post
By Kim Eun-young and Kim Minji
The number of confirmed COVID-19 patients on Feb. 28 exceeded 2,000, but foreign media say this is because of Korea’s superb capacity to check people for the coronavirus.
The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters under the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the same day said it conducted 70,940 diagnostic tests. It also cited the diagnostic test rate as a percentage of the population at 0.1367%.
The number of tests in Korea is exceptionally high compared to countries like Japan and the U.S.
ABC News of the U.S. said, “(Korea) had tested a total of 66,652 people for the COVID-19 as of 4 p.m., whereas Japan had reported administering roughly 1,890 tests and the U.S. only 445.”
The TBS program “News 23” in Japan said, “Korea runs 7,500 diagnostic tests a day, while Japan doesn’t even do 100.”
Medical experts worldwide, especially in the U.S., lauded Korea’s response to the outbreak.
Todd Ellerin, director of infectious disease at South Shore Health in Massachusetts, said the massive number of tests Korea has administered is impressive. “It’s an urgent situation right now, and that’s how we (the U.S.) should be adjusting,” he added.
Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist at Boston’s Harvard Chan School of Public Health said, “I definitely respect their earnestness and transparency.”
Scott Gottlieb of the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute mentioned “very detailed COVID-19 reporting from (Korean) health officials,” adding that Korea is “demonstrating a significant diagnostic capability.”
Foreign media also noted the speed of diagnostic testing in Korea and the COVID-19 test kit developed there.
TBS and ABC reported tests being quickly conducted at private hospitals and public health labs.
“A big reason for (Korea’s) success is how quickly they were able to get test kits ready,” ABC said, citing “drive-through” centers recently set up to allow screening of people in their cars.