Drive-through clinics ease testing for COVID-19 outbreak

▲ drivethru

People with suspected symptoms of COVID-19 can get diagnosed at drive-through screening clinics. The photo above shows medical staff on Feb. 26 working at one such clinic in the town of Jochiwon-eup in the special administrative city of Sejong. (Yonhap News)

By Oh Hyun Woo and Lee Jihae

People who show symptoms of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) can get diagnosed at drive-through screening clinics while remaining in their vehicles.

Such clinics are highly efficient because they require no negative room pressure facilities, a method used by hospitals to differentiate pressure in and out of a room to prevent cross-contamination from room to room.

Drive-through clinics also need no sanitization or ventilation facilities, which a hospital runs every time a patient gets tested, since all visitors and doctors are confined to one space.

The entire process comprising a medical examination, heat detection and extraction of samples takes up about 30 minutes at hospitals but just about ten minutes at such clinics.

Those being tested can remain seated in their vehicles when entering the screening clinics, where they undergo examination and get samples extracted if doctors find it necessary.

The drive-through clinics also save time and reduce the risk of infection between visitors and medical staff, as well as not requiring those tested to release their identity.

The efficiency and simplicity of these clinics have increased the latter's popularity nationwide. As of March 2, drive-through clinics were installed in Incheon's Yeonsu-gu District, the special administrative city of Sejong, Goyang, Gyeonggi-do Province, and Yeungnam University Medical Center in Daegu.

Foreign media are also lauding these clinics. ABC News of the U.S. on Feb. 27 held interviews with visitors to these clinics and said testing is being conducted more swiftly in Korea than in any other country.

The BBC's Seoul correspondent Laura Bicker tweeted on Feb. 26, "The amazing doctors in Daegu here in (Korea) sent us this. A picture of their new drive-thru coronavirus test facility. Such a clever idea and so quickly set up."

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