South Korea's Covid-19 task force is looking at a rash of mysterious pneumonia cases in Wuhan in late 2019 . The new strategy is being used to prepare for a new pandemic, which could strike in a decade .
South Korea's top health officials met for a quarterly table-top exercise two weeks before China revealed it was looking at a rash of mysterious pneumonia cases in Wuhan in late 2019 — which we now call Covid-19 — to prioritize their response to a potential health problem.The danger A never-before-seen pathogen was causing a spike in pneumonia cases in China.But the war-gaming and the subject matter were irrelevant.Korea had learned a painful lesson from a Middle East Respiratory Syndrome outbreak four years earlier.In its raft of critiques, the paper said that inadequate evaluation and isolation of MERS patients were accelerating disease transmission, as well as shortcomings in information-sharing within the health-care system.Next ThreatThe KDCA's analysis of its Covid response has revealed deficiencies that will guide policies toward the next health problem, which they say is likely to be a respiratory virus.Peck, who was also the president of the Korea Society of Infectious Diseases, was a professor of infectious diseases for more than two decades.Peck explained that curfews, which were put in place in many parts of the world during the pandemic, were ineffective at containing what was a much more contagious virus than MERS.Peck said that when the agency's leafy 98-acre headquarters in Osong, about 45 minutes by bullet train from It is also home to the National Institute of Health and the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, Koreas FDA, and other research institutes, facilitating coordination during the Covid response.Ventilation facilities in Korea must be improved, especially in high-risk areas like nursing homes. Other hot-button topics are being looked at as part of the survey, including whether schools should close, the effectiveness of travel curbs and gathering restrictions in stemming a new crisis, and masks.According to Peck, their findings will be published in a white paper on Koreas Covid response, although they didn't specify the exact time.It's worth listening to what these experts say.South Korea has one of the world's lowest Covid death rates, with the third-highest death rates per 100,000 people out of the 38 members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Despite its intense testing program, Korea detected a total of 26 million infections, the fourth-highest in the OECD.Unlikely, the country never had a large-scale shutdown.According to the WHO, the country's vaccination rate was the highest in the world this summer, before widespread surveillance was abandoned, with 2.4 shots per person on average, according to Cheon-Kwon Yoo, the director of the KDCA's Bureau of Infectious Disease Diagnosis Control.We had been thinking about the next pandemic, but we didnt know it would come so soon. It meant Korea could detect Covid even before its genetic makeup was known, placing the country well ahead of other nations that struggled to get tests started, said Ki-suck Jung, a lung specialist at Hallym University and a member of Koreas Covid-19 task force.But as the cases escalated, the workload grew too heavy, so authorities used a QR-code check-in system, which included credit card spending and cell phone location data, along with CCTV footage to track people.Following MERS, Korea received a bevy of specialized hospital beds to isolate patients and control air quality, preventing the outbreak of Covid in other parts of the world.Though the danger was widespread, the reaction to Covid was uneven. We also learned that we cant do this on our own, and that the next outbreak of swine flu in 2009 and Covid-19 occurred only a decade later than ever, and it's imperative that the world work together to prepare, Peck said.It could be worse.(