Learning How to Adapt to the Coronavirus According to Korea

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COVID-19, more commonly known as the coronavirus, has spread to countless parts of the world. Since properly and successfully containing the disease is near impossible, as well as the fact that it is a completely new virus, instills great amounts of fear among the global population. South Korea has the second largest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases now at 7,869 (last updated March 12, 2020), its sudden and fast influx of cases arousing intense panic among the Korean populus.

Many South Korean citizens speculated and have placed the blame on the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a branch of Christianity. The outbreak started in Daegu, a county with about 2.5 million people, when a 61 year old man with the coronavirus participated in Shincheonji services. The services in this specific church were organized so that hundreds of people would be studying the Bible’s Book of Revelation shoulder to shoulder. Masks were not allowed to be worn during service, only accelerating the spread of the virus between the Shincheonji congregates. The church also required the members to participate in service four times a week unlike most other branches where sermon would take place once a week, usually on Sundays. South Koreans are full of rage after the discovery of Shincheonji’s massive contribution to this increase in COVID-19 cases. As a result, the founder of the church, Lee Man-hee, publicly apologized and the church was sued by the mayor of Seoul.

South Korea is also facing a detrimental face mask shortage, with the supply of the masks low but demand for them increasing by the day. Citizens are forced to stand in lines early in the morning at the beginning of the week to purchase masks, which becomes counterproductive in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Individuals are allowed to buy two face masks per person for the entire week, forcing people to stay inside a majority of the time. Most schools have been shut down and daily life for many South Korean individuals have come to a stop.

However, South Korea was quick in taking action, setting up extremely cheap drive-through clinics for people to get tested for the coronavirus as well as massive disinfections of streets and other public areas around the country. Korean officials effectively battled the epidemic in 6 hours and have tested 200,000 people. Fast paced actions to slow down the spread of COVID-19 in South Korea is admirable and should be utilized as models for other countries to follow or at least take consideration of during such trying times.