This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Hitesh Mahawar. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

What The World Can Learn From South Korea To Tackle COVID-19

More from Hitesh Mahawar

This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

6Ts! Timely Action, Testing, Tracing, Treatment, Team Work, and Tracking and Monitoring

COVID-19 popularly known as coronavirus is newly discovered coronavirus. This virus is contagious in nature and people affected with the coronavirus are a transferrable medium to transmit it to other people through respiratory droplets.

World Health Organization (WHO) had declared the coronavirus disease a pandemic on 11 March 2020 when there were around 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people had died due to this disease. As of today (after one month), the total tested positive cases across the globe are more than 1,500,000 (1.5 million+) in 212 countries and territories, and more than 95,000 people have lost their lives.

What started from a seafood market in Wuhan city in Hubei Province of China in mid-December 2019 is now a global crisis. The USA now has more than 450,000 tested positive coronavirus cases and European countries such as Italy, Spain, Germany, and France are worst hit by this virus. Italy alone has more than 18,000 cases of fatalities (143,000+ tested positive cases), which is highest for any country, till date.

So the question arises, what these countries have failed to do to contain the virus whereas there are some countries that contained the virus outbreak and flattened the curve before was too late.

Photo by Victor He on Unsplash

South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore are the ones who got this right in earlier stages of the pandemic, with South Korea leading the race across the globe to contain the coronavirus on a large scale.

Photo by H Shaw on Unsplash

1. Timely/Early Action

South Korea, learning from its past experiences from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in 2015 which took 38 livesacted fast and got themselves ready to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. It included a discussion with the medical industry personnel, manufacturing testing kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), getting the hospitals ready, large scale public awareness through “social distancing” campaign, and shutting down some public places such as schools, events with large gatherings, and encouraging offices to work from home, etc.

2. Testing, Testing, and Testing

Once the cases started coming, South Korea shot up its per day testing capacity and tested every possible suspicious case.

It is testing almost 1 out of 110 (Total South Korea Population (51,259,433)/Total Tests till date (477,304)) person, i.e., 9,812 tests per million population with the developed capacity to test 20,000 people per day.

Finding innovative ways of testing is also one of the factors which helped South Korea to achieve the testing at high scales. These include construction of “drive-through testing center” (quick and easy to take), automatic testing (reduced result-time significantly; the samples are kept into a diagnostic machine and the solution is mixed with the help of the machine, which can be done for a number of tests at once), and walk-through centers at clinics and hospitals.

Widespread testing is one of the crucial keys to fighting this virus, and South Korea has shown its political will to adopt this method and has been able to manage the situation relatively comfortably so far, compared to other nations. This decision for mass testing has not only made South Korea capable of testing every suspicious individual in the country but also helped the manufacturers to scale up their production and export to other countries in this time of crisis. Currently, South Korean companies are producing enough testing kits to test 135,000 people per day.

Photo by Stefan Heesch on Unsplash

3. Tracing

Effective tracing is another area that is highly critical to identify the possible spread or suspected cases. South Korea has developed a robust contact tracing system which helped them mark and identify networks of possible transmission/suspected cases and the areas. It includes emergency alerts through messages to all the citizens whenever new positive cases are discovered in the district. The alert shares a link that directs to the district website and shares the locations and places visited by the infected person with a time stamp. It helps other people, who might have come in contact with that person or visited the same place at that time, take the necessary precautions. This has helped people immensely to drive for self-testing if the need arises and also alerted authorities to disinfect the places and regions on time. Although this system is helping the government, it is also disrupting privacy and creating unseen consequences. It can also be seen as a trade-off between the privacy of a person and the collective effort to tackle the virus outbreak which could lead to more serious situations if not contained on time.

4. Treatment

As of today, there is no treatment or specific medicine and vaccine available to prevent the COVID-19 disease. However, people with severe symptom require supportive care to help them breath and relieve the symptoms. This crisis tests the preparedness of the government and the diagnostic capacity of the nation at scale. Learning from its previous experiences of MERS, South Korea has prepared itself for an outbreak like this and is equipped with almost all the necessary equipment such as ventilators, oxygen concentrators, clinical beds, personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors, medical staff and people at the frontline who are working in essential services. It has also observed that proper isolation and quarantine facilities are also important for cases with mild symptoms and to further stop the spread of the virus. Early detection of the cases enables early treatment, and is now becoming a determining factor for the low fatality rate of the country, which is also reflected by the data that South Korea has only 2% fatalities as compared to 6% of the world.

5. Team Work

Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash

One person will not be able to tackle this crisis, and hence teamwork becomes essential to fight and get control over the pandemic. In these times, citizens’ support becomes critical to enforce the guidelines of the government. Trust in the public institutions, civic services, NGOs and community at large become crucial while handling and working to overcome the national crisis. An effective state is the one that enforces regulations and also serves its citizens. This indicates the bond of trust between the government and the hoi polloi. Social trust is higher in South Korea as compared to many other countries, which resulted in the successful pursuance of the guideline and appeal made by the government and also raised public awareness.

 

South Korean authorities have requested people to stay indoors, maintain social distancing, avoid unnecessary travel, do work from home and minimize meetings, cancel events which are expected to have large gatherings such as concerts, games, parties, etc. The sports games and pop-concerts have been cancelled. The people of South Korea responded positively to the appeal and it resulted in quiet streets and empty public places, even in Seoul, the busiest city of the country. People of South Korea reacted responsibly and didn’t do panic buying, and also increased social awareness through public participation (virtually).

Good communication and coordination between the various regional and central government bodies and institutions, and detailed health system plan led to the smooth execution of the health services on the ground.

6. Tracking and Monitoring

A comprehensive tracking system is required to monitor those who tested positive for COVID-19. Tracking and monitoring of the confirmed and suspected cases becomes pivotal for identifying the transmission area, the network of people who either have received or transmitted the virus from/to another person. It is also important to ensure compliance among those home quarantine for surveillance.

South Korea is successfully tracking and monitoring those who tested positive because of the application of three important technological advancements. First, South Korea has the highest percentage of cashless transactions (credit cards, debit cards, etc.) among all the countries in the world. Second, the number of registered cellphones (cellphone ownership rates) in South Korea is one of the world’s highest; it exceeds the number of people in the country. Third, South Korean cities have millions of CCTV cameras that capture almost every movement of people outside their homes. These three technologies help in identifying the exact location/movement of the infected person over the preceding 14 days and track down the places where they visited, so that their whereabouts could be shared with the people residing in those areas to avoid visiting the infected spaces and take precautionary actions.

As the risk of resurgence remains, the model of public participation, open information, and widespread mass testing with six critical key measures—Timely/Early Action, Testing, Tracing, Treatment, Team Work, and Tracking and Monitoring seem fairly promising to contain and control the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and this could also be the lesson to the rest of the world to be prepared for the next big undesirable outbreak.

A version of this article was first published here.

You must be to comment.

More from Hitesh Mahawar

Similar Posts

By Prabhanu Kumar Das

By Vivek Sarraf

By Ritwik Trivedi

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below