Case development over timeThe Coronavirus outbreak in South Korea began on January 23rd with a tourist from China. The number slowly increased for about a month and then began to increase exponentially from the 31st patient, known as a super propagator. In Korea, where the population density and social contact is high, group infection was initiated quickly and the number of new cases per day peaked on February 29, with 909 cases.
Due to the government’s quick response, more than seven million tests have been conducted until now. Once the mass infection of Shincheonji followers increased uncontrollably, the Korean government announced that it would test over 200 thousand Shincheonji followers. The second rise in infection cases occurred in August which was related to the cluster infections from one Protestant church and one clubgoer in Seoul that triggered a massive infection afterward. Most recently in December, the Korean government announced that it was going through the third wave of infections where the daily cases recorded the new highest 1,241 cases on Christmas Eve.
Vaccination plansSouth Korea started vaccinations against COVID-19 in February 2021, administering almost 800 thousand vaccinations in a month. The vaccinations for the priority group including employees at medical facilities and first respondents are scheduled to be administered until May, with the next priority groups following as scheduled. The two domestic pharmaceutical companies SK Bioscience and GS Pharma will cooperate with global vaccine companies on the vaccine distribution in the country. SK Bioscience signed a contract with AstraZeneca to manufacture vaccines for domestic and global markets.
Economic impactThe spread of COVID-19 in South Korea and then across the globe in 2020 heavily impacted the domestic economy. Due to the pandemic, Korea's GDP was predicted to decrease by 0.3 percent from the previous projection. The Korean stock market was also hit by the outbreak of the coronavirus, resulting in the KOSPI index dropping under 1,600 once for the first time in 10 years. As Korea’s economy is hugely dependent on foreign trade, Korea struggled massively during the COVID-19 crisis. Nevertheless, 2021 was off to a strong start for Korean exports. Exports from South Korea in January and February 2021 were up by more than ten percent compared to the same period last year, before the COVID-19 crisis began. Although the crisis continues, economic recovery seems to be anticipated this year.
For further information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, please visit our dedicated Facts and Figures page.