Speaking to BBC’s Andrew Marr, South Korea Foreign Minister claimed testing as many people as possible was crucial in their success in reducing the number of coronavirus-infected people in the country. Asked by Andrew Marr why she believed testing was a fundamental measure to combat COVID-19, she said: “Testing is central because that leads to early detection, it minimises further spread and quickly treats those found with the virus.
“And I think that’s the key behind our very low fatality rate as well.
“I think our system quickly approved the testing system after the Chinese authorities released the genetic sequence of the virus in mid-January.
“Our health authorities quickly conferred with the research institutions here and then shared that result with the pharmaceutical companies to then produce the reagent and the equipments for the testing.
“I think our testing is nearly a quarter of a million at this point.
“At 268,000 as of today.”
South Korea on Sunday reported 76 new coronavirus cases and three deaths, marking the first time in over three weeks that new cases have dropped to double-digits, as President Moon Jae-in declared the hardest-hit provinces “special disaster zones”.
It is the first time South Korea has declared a region a disaster zone from an infectious disease and under the status, the government can subsidise up to 50 percent of restoration expenses and exempt residents from taxes and utility payments.
South Korea, which has the highest number of cases in Asia after China, now has a total to 8,162 confirmed infections and 75 deaths, the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said (KCDC).
South Korea has been experiencing a downward trend in new cases and the latest numbers are significantly lower than the peak of 909 cases reported on Feb. 29 and down from the 107 recorded on Saturday.
Citing an extended economic fallout, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said: “We will brace for all possibilities. We will minimise the impact on the economy of the people.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in declared the southeastern city of Daegu and parts of North Gyeongsang province as “special disaster zones”, the presidential Blue House spokesman Kang Min-seok said.
41 of the new coronavirus cases were from Daegu, where a secretive church at the centre of the outbreak is located.
The church has been linked to over 61 percent of cases, KCDC Deputy Director Kwon Jun-wook told a briefing on Sunday.
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Among the special disaster zones is Cheongdo county, home to around 43,000 people, where another cluster of coronavirus cases is located, and where South Korea’s first victim of the virus died.
A total of 120 patients were released from hospitals and for the third day in a row, the daily number of those recovered exceeded that of new confirmed cases since South Korea’s first case was confirmed on January 20.
“The number of infected patients has been decreasing the past week, and a daily infection has dropped from the previous week’s 500 to 100,” health minister Park Neung-hoo told reporters on Sunday.
According to KCDC’s Kwon, the drop in new cases comes after most of the mass infection cases linked to the church members were identified.
“What’s more important now is the remaining clusters of infection that is quietly making headway.”
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