Envoy bares SoKor strategies in combating Covid-19 pandemic

Ambassador of South Korea to the Philippines, Han Dong-man, has bared strategies including the utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) and information and communication technology (ICT), that his country has been imposing to flatten the curve of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections without enforcing lockdowns.


“In a globalized world, viruses know no borders. The situation was very challenging in the beginning,” Han said in an interview in Taguig City on Tuesday.


He said that under the principle of T.R.U.S.T. – Transparency, Robust Screening and Quarantine, Unique but Universally Applicable, Strict Control, and Treatment — the Korean government “focused on providing information transparently to the public, identifying quickly those who were infected with Covid-19 by facilitating prompt diagnostic tests for whoever wished to test, implementing quick quarantine measures for those infected with the virus, efficient tracing of people potentially exposed to risk of infection, and conducting active treatment of Covid-19 patients”.


Han also cited the importance of “cooperation from the general public, who exercised vigilance such as social distancing, wearing masks, voluntarily going through Covid-19 diagnostic tests even without visible symptoms”.


He said strict implementation of these strategies “helped Korea flatten the curve of new Covid-19 cases without having to resort to any lockdowns”.


“As the Covid-19 spread and more people got infected, many people in Korea began to think of various creative ways to speed up the diagnostic testing, while reducing health risks for front-line healthcare workers, which led to the adoption of the so-called ‘Drive-Thru Covid-19 Testing Stations’ and ‘Walk-Thru Covid-19 Testing Booths’ in Korea,” Han said.


Han said the “Drive-Thru” testing method significantly enhanced access of the general public to Covid-19 tests while allowing healthcare workers to minimize any risks of infection by conducting the tests in a large open space.


On the other hand, he said “Walk-Thru” testing booths further enhanced the access to Covid-19 tests “for the wider public by making it easy for people who don’t drive, to just walk to a testing booth and get the virus test done within five minutes”.


“For medics and healthcare workers, both these ‘Drive-Thru’ and ‘Walk-Thru’ testing methods provided better protection while enabling them to conserve scarce supplies such as personal protective equipment and reduce medical waste as well,” he added.


Han said the Korean government also boosted its efforts to contain the deadly virus by adopting the “Speedy, Safe and Accurate” approach, also dubbed as 3Ts (Test, Trace, Treat) in combating the virus.


He said the full cooperation of the private sector led to led to the creation of effective “tracing” and “treatment” methods “using various IT technology”.


“For example, mobile Tracing application was developed to monitor the movement of infected individuals and to trace people potentially exposed to the risks of Covid-19 infection while it made sure that their personal information is not made public. Any concerns about the possible infringement of citizens’ rights to privacy are addressed by the relevant Personal Information Protection Act in Korea which stipulates that all personal information should be destroyed 14 days after the incubation period,” Han said.


“There is a wide consensus and understanding in Korea that the purpose of such travel charts of infected individuals is to understand the movement of the corona virus, its host,” he added.


He said the use of AI and ICT greatly enhanced prevention efforts and treatment of infected patients.


However, Han said that with the pandemic still much around and no vaccine available, “everyone must continue to stay vigilant until a vaccine is developed to address the pandemic disease”.


He said the Korean government is committed to the open, transparent and democratic approach in addressing Covid-19 and will continue to share its experiences and information around the world, including the Philippines, which he cited helped South Korea during the Korean War.


During the Korean war that started in June 25, 1950, the Philippines was the first Asian country which sent 7,420 combat troops that helped protect South Korea until 1955, to which the Korean government is very much thankful to this day.


“The Philippines is Korea’s long-standing ally,” Han said.


Source: Philippines News Agency


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