Korea Is Doing The Right Thing On Coronavirus

And getting nothing but scolding in return

Drive-thru coronavirus testing in Korea

Right now Korea is one of the safest places to be, because they are vigorously testing for coronavirus. Perversely, this makes them look unsafe compared to countries, like Japan and the US, that have their heads in the sand.

Japan has recently slapped Korea with a travel ban, but it should actually be the other way around. You can be reasonably sure that most cases in Korea have been tested. You can’t say the same about Japan.

Though the government claims it has the capacity to conduct 3,800 tests a day, only 5,700 were carried out between Feb. 18 and 23, the health minister told the Diet last week.
With 6,284 confirmed cases of infection, South Korea has quickly become the second-biggest epicenter of the virus according to official data. But transmission of the same scale could already be happening in Japan, Burris said.
“That would be the safe thing to assume,” he explained. “If the Abe government is not actively trying to find cases and assess where Japan stands, then it’s making a big mistake.” (Japan Times)

For reference, Korea tests at least 10,000 people per day. And yet they’re getting nothing but scolding for the trouble. This is one reason that blanket travel bans are not recommended by any public health organization. They don’t work, and they punish countries that test, report and do the right thing.

The US, for example, tested fewer than 500 people before they stopped reporting the figure at all. However, they have 14 deaths, meaning that there are at least hundreds of cases out there. But they happily trot out the results of their failure as proof that everything is fine.

Mike Azar, one of three people in charge of the shambolic US effort said, “We are not Korea. Korea is in a very active hot zone outbreak.”

This is like someone that hasn’t done their homework laughing at the grades of the kid who did. The US hasn’t done the work and they are in the middle of an invisible outbreak, which is much much worse. Seattle is where Wuhan was a month ago, and that’s not a place anyone should be.

Right now the safest place to be is where there are either zero deaths, or where testing is happening. If your country has, say, 14 deaths like America, you probably have at least 500 cases right now. Those 500 cases will be 1,000 tomorrow, and 2,000 the day after that, and then you’ve lost all hope of isolating them, tracing contacts and containing the epidemic.

The countries that are testing, like Korea and China, will look bad now but then they’ll actually be able to contain their epidemics. The numbers will go down. It’s already happened in China and is happening even faster in Korea.

It appears to be paying off in a lower-than-average mortality rate. The outbreak is also showing signs of being largely contained in Daegu, the city about 150 miles south of Seoul where most of the country’s more than 5,700 infections have emerged. South Korea reported the rate of new cases dropped three days in a row. (Bloomberg)

In the idiotic countries that a crowing about low numbers now, however, the epidemic will soon explode. In the US and Japan, cases will only rise. Because they have no idea what’s going on, and they’re proud of it.

The scary thing is that this idiocy encourages other countries to not test and to not report. They can pretend like nothing is going wrong, and avoid travel bans. Meanwhile, the good countries are treated like pariahs.

At this point, travel bans are completely pointless. They’ve never been recommended and we are long past the voice where COVID-19 can be contained. Everyone is going to get coronavirus eventually, the only question is are you prepared. Right now, it’s better to keep our global economy running so we can fight this thing rather than shutting it down to gain maybe a week’s delay.

But honestly, poor South Korea. They’re the most responsible country out there right now, and they get nothing but scolding in return.