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South Korean soldier wearing protective suits spray a street in the Gangnam district of Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday, March 5, 2020. South Korea's government said its seeking a 11.7 trillion won ($9.8 billion) extra budget to help businesses hit by the worlds second-largest coronavirus outbreak, joining policy makers around the globe intensifying responses to the epidemic. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Coronavirus Intervention: The South Korean Model

South Korean soldier wearing protective suits spray a street in the Gangnam district of Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday, March 5, 2020. South Korea's government said its seeking a 11.7 trillion won ($9.8 billion) extra budget to help businesses hit by the worlds second-largest coronavirus outbreak, joining policy makers around the globe intensifying responses to the epidemic. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

The government of Italy, which now has the most recorded cases outside of China, has placed the entire nation under quarantine in a bid to reverse the spread of coronavirus, Covid 19.

Tourist guides with the Seoul Metropolitan Government stand in Namdaemun Market in Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday, March 5.

Other nations are scrambling to develop a strategy to deal with the disease which is disabling local economies.

The Italian and other governments around the world should be taking more than a peek into the informal rule book created for South Korea –Asia’s fourth largest economy -for management of its health crisis and the associated economic impact.

On March 10, 2020, CNN reported that South Korea’s top public health officials expressed the hope that the country has been through the worst of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“We are hoping that we have passed the peak, taking the numbers into consideration, and cautiously expecting we have passed the peak,” South Korean Health Minister Park Neunghoo said in an interview with CNN.

A store employee puts a bottle of hand-sanitiser into a rack placed in front of a shop in the Myeongdong district in Seoul, South Korea on March 5.

Numbers of new infections in the Asian country have declined in recent days. As at March 10, a total of 7,513 cases have been reported with 53 deaths. 

In the nation, Aljazeera reports that cafés and small businesses have closed their doors, college graduations have been cancelled and after-school tutors laid off as families try to reduce contact with possible sources of infection.

Worst hit is Daegu, a city in the south, where about 70 per cent of confirmed cases are located. Moving the country to the highest state of alert enabled the government to enforce prevention public activities and order the temporary closure of schools.

Kyle Ferrier, writing for the diplomat.com noted that the spread of the disease accompanied economic contagion. While disruptions among manufacturers were initially considered as temporary setbacks, production continued to decline as the virus spread.

The government has offered hand outs to retailers and the tourism industry to limit the impact. Meanwhile, digital maps developed by students are helping to provide real-time information to the public about where the disease has spread.

CNN.com reported that the South Korean government has been among the most ambitious when it comes to providing the public with free and easy testing.

Visitors walk inside a shopping mall in the Insadong neighborhood in Seoul, South Korea on March 5.

Health authorities have run about 15,000 diagnostic tests per day and conducted 196,000 tests to date nationwide, without cost.

In the city of Goyang there are drive-thru testing booths.

In the nation, early stage detection has proven critical. The South Korean authorities also arranged facilities for patients who were only suffering from mild symptoms, CNN reported.

The campaign against coronavirus in South Korea is not without its challenges.

Disinfection workers in protective gear sterilise the area against the novel coronavirus in the center of Seoul, on February 07, 2020 in Seoul.

The opposition is rallying locals to protest the Government’s decision not to block Chinese visitors, which they consider to be loophole which needs to be closed. Experts also highlight a shortage of hospital beds.

Analysts also note that more countries are issuing travel advisories for South Korea and airlines are reducing flights, facts which might further slow economic growth.

Global credit ratings agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P) revised down South Korea’s economic growth outlook for this year to 1.6 per cent from 2.1 per cent.
In other nations, which are beginning to experience community spread of the disease or which have a few cases and wish to be proactive, adopting some of the measures pursued in South Korea might be helpful in cutting the trajectory of the spread of the disease and its economic impact. 

South Korean soldier wearing protective suits spray a street in the Gangnam district of Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday, March 5, 2020.

As of last night, there were more than 113,000 virus cases worldwide, and nearly 4,000 deaths.

 In the United States, more than 700 persons were confirmed to be infected with the virus.  In that nation 19 have died. 

Jamaica recorded its first case of coronavirus and the country will have to implement a preventative strategy for additional cases and community spread. While the Caribbean watches and waits, it is time for all to be more aggressive in testing for the virus, and also in offering support to companies and workers who face dislocation as the epidemic progresses.

— By Makhulu