By Lee Hana
"Korea's success with widespread testing offers a way out for most countries that are stuck in lockdown."
Vox, a U.S. digital media outlet, posted a YouTube video on April 10 titled "The big lesson from South Korea's coronavirus response" that analyzed the country's approach to slowing the spread of COVID-19.
"When Korea experienced two months of the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak in 2015, it came out with many lessons learned, such as the importance of diagnostic testing and basic infection prevention measures," the video said.
"The lessons all came into play when the next outbreak took hold in the country."
Saying Korea began taking action with just 30 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, Vox said, "Health authorities had already started working with biotech companies to develop a test kit for the novel coronavirus," making available thousands of test kits.
"Because the government had already equipped hospitals with coronavirus tests, doctors were able to test (patients right away)," it said, adding that contact tracing, in which all people an infected patient has had contact with are traced and tested, helped break the chain of infections and prevent mass outbreaks.
On what made contact tracing possible in Korea, the video said, "After the MERS outbreak, when they weren't able to trace the movements of the virus, Korea changed the law allowing the government to collect a patient's data and security footage during an outbreak."
"All their steps are logged and then shared to alert people to stay away from the path of infection," it said, adding that if a confirmed case is found near a person's whereabouts, authorities send a text to let the person know if he or she has crossed paths with an infected person.
"While tracing people's every move can be controversial, many in Korea prioritize public health over privacy in an outbreak," Vox said.
"As a result, Korea was able to test hundreds of thousands of people, more than any other country at the time, and this made it easier for authorities to see the virus, to see where it's located and where it may be lurking."
It added, "This ability to find and treat infected people has allowed Korea to avoid aggressive lockdowns, and helped to bend the curve of the outbreak that started out dangerously steep."