And this was done without a single day of a total lockdown, allowing people to maintain their daily lives while taking precautions.
What made this possible was the country’s aggressive strategy of testing, tracing, and treatment, often called the 3Ts.
“Rather than relying on lockdowns, Korea has overcome the crisis several times by developing social distancing based on the 3T strategy.”
The country promptly conducted mass testing through its fast approval of COVID-19 test kits and other creative models such as drive-thru testing and walk-thru testing.
It also centralized the distribution of face masks to overcome the mask shortage.
The country’s high-tech tracing was also unique.
Collecting individuals’ mobile data and using QR codes allowed the health authorities to trace possible infection routes in a faster and more accurate way.
People who tested positive for the virus, regardless of symptoms, were isolated at medical facilities where they received treatment for free,which in turn greatly reduced the fatality rate.
And through such lockdown-free strategies, Korea became one of the most compelling examples in battling the virus, receiving global recognition.
Bloomberg reported that “South Korea’s successful approach of regimented masking, aggressive testing, and high-tech contact tracing is a blueprint for the U.S. and other democracies.”
The Wall Street Journal pointed out that”South Korea never had to mandate a lockdown, so restaurants and business were able to stay open, cushioning the blow to the economy.”
“South Korea’s experts really took the most vocal position and they gave press conferences twice a day urged the public to wear face masks to socially distance so the answer to why South Korea has been able to avoid lockdowns is that they have a public health tool belt that can really keep outbreaks in a manageable level.”
A year since the outbreak, the country is still in its fight against the virus.
But thanks to its efforts to maintain a sustainable approach, the government is projecting economic growth of 3.2 percent this year, assuming that the vaccination program will be complete by November.
Kim Sung-min, Arirang News