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Current State of Seoul’s Measures against COVID-19 Outbreak

COVID-19 Overview

□ COVID-19 outbreak

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease that can be transmitted between animals and humans. It has been an ongoing outbreak since it was first identified in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019. In the early stages of the outbreak, the virus was presumed to be linked to fish markets and animals, but was found transmittable between humans who had no record of visiting such fish markets.

□ COVID-19 symptoms

○ Symptoms of the infectious COVID-19 include clinically mild symptoms to intense symptoms leading to death. The symptoms are fever, coughing, difficulty in breathing and chest x-rays showing signs of pneumonia. The incubation period is from two to fourteen days after exposure to the virus, and it is considered to be infected through respiratory droplets.

□ COVID-19 infectiousness

○ Due to the possibility of transmission between humans, there have been confirmed cases between family members, within the local community and hospitals. In particular, the virus is spreading in communities. As of 9 a.m. February 24th, confirmed cases were reported in 32 countries including Vietnam, Japan, Germany and the United States, with 763 confirmed cases in the Republic of Korea.
○ The average number of people that one COVID-19-infected person can directly infect during the infection period is indicated by the basic reproductive number, R0. The WHO announced it is between 1.4 and 2.5, which is lower than SARS for 4.0, and higher than MERS between 0.4 to 0.9.
□ Fatality and treatment development
○ The fatality statistics show that it was is 2.3% worldwide, 2.3% throughout China, 3.26% in Wuhan, China, 0.34% in areas outside Hubei province in China, and 0.5% in countries outside of China. This is significantly lower than the fatality of SARS, which was at 10.9%, and MERS at 38.6% (with a 21.0% domestic fatality rate).
○ The vaccine for COVID-19 is still in development and currently treatment is given according to symptoms. The domestic treatment guideline was announced on January 31 and has been applied since then.

Seven Preemptive Countermeasures Operated by the Seoul Metropolitan Government

� Further strengthened disaster control efforts
○ (Expansion of the Disaster Control and Safety Headquarters) Since the infectious disease alert was raised to “Serious”, the highest level, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has significantly reinforced the Seoul City Disaster Control and Safety Headquarters and made all-out efforts to contain the virus.
Nine working-level groups of the headquarters was increased to 12. The Seoul City Disaster Control and Safety Headquarters operating as a control tower, it will closely monitor the
status of nationally-designated clinics and quarantine in real time through regular conference calls with the control center of 25 districts, public health clinics, and medical centers.
○ (Enhanced cooperation) The Seoul Safety Control Committee Meeting was held to discuss cooperative measures with the concerned private, government, military and police institutions to respond to the situation in real time.

� Parallel operation of medical and quarantine response systems

○ (Spread prevention) The Seoul Metropolitan Government maintains the “blockade policy” through prompt patient identification and reinforced epidemiological investigation, while concentrating its efforts on minimizes damages by blocking community infection and intensive patient treatment. Seoul is making all-out efforts to prevent further spread in communities.
○ (Expansion of the epidemiological investigation team) The epidemiological investigation team who investigates the movement of confirmed cases has greatly expanded to stop the further spread of COVID-19. Starting from February 24th, four teams of twenty four investigators has been increased to sixteen teams of ninety six investigators to quickly trace the movements of confirmed patients and investigate on those who had contact with the confirmed cases. This is part of efforts to relieve anxiety of citizens and promptly identity the community infection.
○ (Reinforced designated clinics) All designated clinics of the public health centers in 25 autonomous districts will stop the regular medical service and operate the designated clinic service around the clock. For stable 24-hour operation, more than 16 medical personnel were secured and they work in two shifts. As a preemptive measure, the medical team is testing suspected cases who show symptoms of COVID-19 and stopping the suspected patients from entering private hospitals. This is to block community infection at the front line.
○ (Emergency Treatment Center) To minimize damage from the infectious disease, six municipal hospitals—Children’s Hospital, Eunpyeong Hospital, Seobuk Hospital, Boramae Hospital, Dongbu Hospital, and Bukbu Hospital—will reduce general medical service and establish the “COVID-19 Emergency Treatment Center.” Seoul Medical Center and Seonam Hospital were designated as “Infectious Disease Control Center,” and all hospitalized patients were transferred to other hospitals. Seoul Medical Center and Boramae Hospital are the first to operate the exclusive children’s designated clinics.
○ (Public-private cooperation) As for disease control, the Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to closely cooperate with experts from the private sector in order to thoroughly monitor the disease control status, to support the public promotion of disease control and to set up the strong screening system

� Intensive Disease Control of High-risk Facilities and Strengthened Screening of Suspected Cases

○ (Summary) The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to enforce strict quarantine of facilities and members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, the hotbed of national uneasiness and fear, as well as intensive disinfection of Eunpyeong St. Mary’s Hospital, which is suspicious of contamination, to relieve fear of the public.
○ (Shincheonji Church Facilities) As a top priority, the Seoul Metropolitan Government acquired the list and addresses of the 170 churches and affiliated facilities of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Starting from Friday, February 21, Seoul in cooperation with autonomous districts examined the site, and as of 11:00 a.m. Monday, February 24, 163 facilities were shut down and disinfected. Seoul plans to examine the matter of infection and take measures through total inspections made immediately upon acquiring a list of Shincheonji members.
○ (Hospitals) With rising concerns over hospital contamination at Eunpyeong Hospital, all emergency centers and outpatient care will be shut down starting Saturday, February 22, and a rapid response team comprised of experts was established. All hospitalized patients were required to stay in single rooms in self-quarantine and their temperatures were monitored and underwent total inspection through the coronavirus PCR test. *
*PCR (polymerase chain reaction): Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is taken from a target, such as a patient’s saliva or phlegm, and compared it with that of an actual patient to test the positivity of infection. The test is also known as real-time test.

� Temporary Closure of Public Facilities to Control Movements
○ (Facility closures) As a preemptive measure to prevent community infection, the Seoul Metropolitan Government enforced the closure of senior welfare centers and public welfare facilities starting Friday, February 21. Seoul also plans to enforce closures of childcare centers as well as cultural and sports facilities.

� Emergency Measures to Minimize Close Contact

○ (Ban rallies in Seoul) The main infection route of COVID-19 is considered to be through droplets, spreading secretively, Seoul plans to minimize close contact among citizens by decreasing congestion of subways, buses and public transportation facilities. Also, as a preventative measure, Seoul announced a ban on rallies and gatherings in central Seoul including Gwanghwamun Square.
○ Going forward, Seoul will work with the police to block gatherings and rallies which take place in Gwanghwamun Square and the nearby areas. Seoul will accuse all the rally participants of misconduct to the police based on collected videos and photos.
○ (Flexible work hours) First, public transportation congestion will be lessened by adjusting work hours of government officials and the employees of government agencies. with the adoption of a different-timed commuting system for government officials and workers of affiliated organizations, with hopes of it being expanded and applied to the private sector. To reduce of COVID-19 infections through close contact during commute hours, government officials, excluding COVID-19 quarantine-related personnel and critical workers, began work at 10 AM and ended at 7 PM starting Monday, February 24. Furthermore, the city requested cooperation from the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business, Seoul-related businesses, and public and private businesses for positive participation in the different-time commuting system.

� Transform TBS into a special disaster broadcasting channel

○ (Special broadcasting) Seoul Media Foundation TBS will be reorganized and operated as disaster special broadcasting channel with the combines services of radio, television and
YouTube. This is to soothe excessive fear and anxiety among the public by stopping the circulation of fake news and sharing accurate information.

� Revised COVID-19 Prevention Guideline to Action befitting the “crisis” alert level

○ (Citizen campaign) To block local spreading of COVID-19, the Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to enforce concentrated publicity of its Citizen Action Tips that informs citizens of social distancing through restraining from unnecessary outings, instructions to follow upon discovery of respiratory symptoms such as fever and cough, and a code of conduct for personal hygiene. The Seoul Metropolitan Government will promote COVID-19 Prevention Guideline to citizens to prevent community infection. The guideline includes dos and don’ts when citizens have respiratory symptoms such as fever and cough, and recommendations to avoid contact with other citizens in the public space.
○ (Information sharing) To relieve the public fear, Seoul promptly disclosed all the information Shincheonji Church of Jesus facilities (including address, disinfection status, closure) on the Seoul City website. It also shared the list of public facilities, confirmed cases’ movements, and the disinfection status through the Clean Zone website on the city website.
Full-scale support for Chinese students entering Seoul

� Organized the joint response team for Chinese students entering Seoul
○ (Arrival support) Seoul organized the joint response team for Chinese students with 25 autonomous districts, 49 universities expecting the arrival of Chinese international students. Seoul provided all-out support for Chinese students and students coming to Korea via China to attend the university course from the arrival stage.

� Accommodation support for Chinese students
○ (Accommodation support) The Seoul Metropolitan Government has urged universities to use dormitories and empty facilities on the campus to primarily accommodate the Chinese students and to thoroughly manage them. Seoul and autonomous districts secured temporary accommodation for them. The team will regularly disinfect the accommodation and supply food and daily necessities.

� Constant monitoring
○ (Medical examination) International students reside in places other than dormitories will be placed under one-on-one direct monitoring by monitoring personnel over the phone to check students’ health at least twice a day. The Self Diagnosis mobile app (available for download via the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s website) will also be used to check the state of students’ health.

� Reduce animosity towards Chinese students
○ (Strengthened ties) Seoul will lessen vague antipathy and wariness towards Chinese international students for meaning studying abroad and make plans for amicable relations between nearby local residents and students.

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