South Korea confirmed 13,979 cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) infections including 298 deaths as of July 24. Korea's number of infections was once 2nd in the world after China, but now Korea went below the top 30 with a flattened curve of infection growth. Coronavirus 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 who is 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 one million tests have been conducted until now. After it was revealed that the 31st patient was in the Shincheonji Church and the mass infection of Shincheonji followers increased uncontrollably, the Korean government announced that it would test over 200 thousand Shincheonji followers. After the first wave lasted till April, new cases have grown recently including the related cases to one clubgoer in Seoul and other cluster cases in warehouses of Coupang or MarketKurly. Imported cases from outside Korea also remains around half of the new daily cases.
Infected patients were largely men in the early stages, but now the proportion of women with the virus is slightly higher than that of men. Furthermore, the infection rate was highest among people in their 20s, followed by those in their 50s, 40s, and 60s respectively. As the infection rate among teens or younger increased, the opening of schools in South Korea, usually beginning in March, was postponed until May. As for the regional distribution of those infected, the proportion in Daegu, which is the hometown of Sincheonji and neighboring Gyeongbuk, still acounnts for 60 percent.
Nonetheless, the situation is improving. Golden Cross has been maintained since mid-March, with the number of recovered cases exceeding new infections. Also, the rapid test progress, such as the drive-thru test method and the transparent disclosure of information by the government, led to the Korean coronavirus response method becoming a good practice model around the world. In addition, donations from businesses and celebrities continue, and citizens are actively responding to the virus on their own by practicing voluntary self-isolation, social distancing, and by wearing a mask. According to the survey, most of the people started to wear masks after the coronavirus outbreak and 74 percent of them were expecting the situation to stabilize in the next month.
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