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How Italy, South Korea differ in tackling coronavirus outbreak


In Italy, millions are locked down and quite 1,000 people have died from the coronavirus.

But in South Korea, which was hit by the disease at about the identical time, only some thousand are quarantined and 67 people died.

Italy started off testing widely, then narrowed the main focus so now, authorities don't need to process many thousands of tests. But there is a trade-off: they cannot see what's coming and are attempting to curb the movements of the country's entire population of 60 million people to contain the disease.

In South Korea, authorities are testing many thousands of individuals for infections and tracking potential carriers like detectives, using mobile and satellite technology.

Both countries saw their first cases of the disease called COVID-19 in late January.

South Korea has since reported nearly 8,000 confirmed cases, after testing quite 222,000 people.

In contrast, Italy has quite 12,000 confirmed cases after polishing off quite 73,000 tests on an unspecified number of individuals.

Epidemiologists say it's unimaginable to match the numbers directly. But some say the various outcomes point to a vital insight: Aggressive and sustained testing may be a powerful tool for fighting the virus.

Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior policy fellow at the middle for Global Development in Washington, said extensive testing can give countries a stronger picture of the extent of an endemic. When testing in a very country is proscribed, he said, the authorities need to take bolder actions to limit the movement of individuals.

"I'm uncomfortable with enforced lockdown-type movement restrictions," said Konyndyk. "China did that, but China is in a position to try to to that. China incorporates a population that may suits that."

Previous lessons
Italy and South Korea are quite 5,000 miles (8,000 km) apart, but there are several similarities when it involves coronavirus.

Both countries' main outbreaks were initially clustered in smaller cities or towns, instead of in a very major metropolis - which meant the disease quickly threatened local health services.

Both confirmed their first cases after doctors decided to ignore testing guidelines.

South Korea, which incorporates a slightly smaller population than Italy at about 50 million people, has around 29,000 people in self-quarantine. it's imposed lockdowns on some facilities and a minimum of one apartment complex hit hardest by outbreaks. But to this point no entire regions are discontinue.

Seoul says it's building on lessons learned from an endemic of geographic area respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2015 and dealing to form the maximum amount information available as possible to the general public.

South Korea is additionally enforcing a law that grants the govt. wide authority to access data: CCTV footage, GPS tracking data from phones and cars, mastercard transactions, immigration entry information, and other personal details of individuals confirmed to possess an communicable disease.

The authorities can then make a number of this public, so anyone who may are exposed can get themselves - or their friends and members of the family - tested.

In addition to helping see who to check, South Korea's data-driven systems help hospitals manage their pipeline of cases.

People found positive are placed in self-quarantine and monitored remotely through an app or checked regularly in telephone calls until a single bed becomes available. When this happens, an ambulance picks the person up and takes them to a hospital with air-sealed isolation rooms.

This approach comes at the value of some privacy. South Korea's system is an intrusive mandatory measure that depends on people surrendering what, for several in Europe and therefore the US, would be a fundamental right of privacy.

"Traditional responses like locking down affected areas and isolating patients is only modestly effective, and will cause problems in open societies, says South Korea's Deputy Minister for Health and Welfare Kim Gang-lip.

In South Korea's experience, he told reporters on Monday, lockdowns mean people participate less in tracing contacts they will have had. "Such an approach," he said, "is close-minded, coercive and inflexible."

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