‘Openness and transparency’ says South Korean Foreign Minister on handling COVID-19 pandemic

“The basic principle is openness, transparency, and fully keeping the public informed,” South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said in The Andrew Marr Show on March 15.

In BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show, aired last March 15, 2020, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang shared some insights on how the country was able to manage and slow down the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Besides having a good and established healthcare system, the transparency of their government earned the trust and confidence of their citizens.

When the outbreak started last January, the country was quick to respond—enabling research institutions, as well as fast approval of testing kits, made the flattening of the curve possible.

South Korea conducted at least 20,000 mass testings a day and utilized technology in monitoring and tracking down potential infections. Through this monitoring system, they were able to continue with normal operation, and a lockdown was off the table.

“Testing is central because that leads to early detection. It minimizes further spread and it quickly treats those found with the virus. And I think, that’s the key behind our very low fatality rate as well,” Kang said.

However, Kang noted that despite the slow down, they are not putting their guards down.

“But of course we are not complacent, [because] this is not just about us. We are taking this approach of openness and transparency, not just domestically but to the international community.”


Better preparations

The South Korean Foreign Minister also acknowledged that this type of pandemic might happen again in the future and on how the international community needs to learn in terms of epidemic management and preparations.

She also pointed out the way other governments should deal with the pandemic. It should maintain a cool head on the situation and make sure to guard the public against panic. As well as including science and other related-evidence in decision-making.

“Governments have to take responsibility to stop this kind of incident (fearmongering). That is not helpful in generating the spirit of collaboration that we absolutely need to overcome this challenge together, globally,” she concluded.

As of writing, the total COVID-19 confirmed cases already reached a million globally, with more than 53,000 deaths— mostly coming from the countries Italy, Spain, and France. On the other hand, around 211,000 patients have successfully recovered from the said disease.


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