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Ave Korea: Things Will Never Be Perfect, Y’all
Y’all stateside are being set free by your government betters, so I thought it might be a good time to tell you how it’s going here in the Seoul metroplex: we had the outbreak earlier than you, so maybe our results will make for a good “coming attractions.”
As you may or may not know, South Korea never locked down. The subways were never closed, the buses never stopped. Yes, the start of school was delayed, and more people worked from home, but life went on in a much more normal way here than it has in the States. School is resuming next week.
New cases of the Wuhan Virus™️ were at two, last I checked. (In a country of about 50 million people.) The medical system here is affordable and effective. I’ve experienced it several times, and have confidence in it. No doubt the medical care in Korea helped mitigate problems with the virus. Same goes for the States, right?
Koreans have been good mask wearers for a long time. A lot of bad things fly through the air from China and end up here, not just exotic diseases but also incredible pollution. So, the population here is ahead of you guys when it comes to the habit of wearing masks, though they take them off occasionally or wear them improperly, just like I’ve seen pictures of folks in the US doing.
Anecdotally, the public bathrooms here are very often out of soap, or out of paper towels. Again, only from what I see, a majority of senior citizens here don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. (Of course, I only have experience using public men’s rooms.) Still, they “flattened the curve.” Could it be the ubiquitous bottles of hand sanitizer?
They talk a good game here about social distancing, but it’s not possible. Foreigners like me who come to Korea to visit or live are continually surprised at being jostled, bumped into, or even shoved on a daily basis, at bus and subway stations, shopping malls, and sidewalks. I lived in Japan for nine months, and I can tell you this issue of personal space is different in Korea. Strangers are invisible here. People do not move if they are in your way, and will walk right into you even when there is plenty of room. The proximity of people should lead to a lot of virus exchanges, and yet … not anymore.
Here, friends often eat from the same bowl at restaurants, each dipping spoons and/or chopsticks into the same bowl. It’s part of the culture. Sharing drinks is also common, even during a pandemic. Still, the virus alerts on my phone stopped coming a couple of weeks ago, about the time Koreans went to the polls, in person, to vote, so, something put the brakes on the virus.
I’m not a doctor, a virologist, or a scientist, just an average weirdo, but my hunch, which comes from what I’ve seen from my own eyes, is this: The healthcare system does some of the work, people and nature do the rest. There are several reasons why you’d think the virus would continue to rampage, and yet it isn’t. I don’t think it will in the States either.
Hey America, after you finish that bowl of Count Chocula™️, how’s about you go outside and get some sun?Published in General
There are a number of underlying conditions at play in South Korea which don’t apply to the US, or which would be a hard sell to Americans:
One of the articles I linked above concludes with, “South Koreans have broadly accepted the loss of privacy as a necessary trade-off.” I have my doubts whether Americans would accept the same tradeoff.
It’s actually a provision of law (articles 6 and 34-2) that citizens be given that information — which would have been much appreciated in the US. We have been given state- and county-level data on the infected population in Ohio, but not information on the location and movement of such individuals.
I have a market based solution. I heard that the “instant” testing was a losing proposition at $50 a test, but was cost-effective at $100 a test.
I would love to go see my mother for Mother’s Day. Would I pay $100 today and $100 on Friday for an instant test? You bet I would. In fact, I would happily pay for myself and my staff to all get tested every week if they liked.
When plasma or flat TV’s came out, they were very expensive. The more people bought them, the more the cost went down. I would be helping reduce the cost of the instant test for everybody.
Finally, I really appreciate this post and the cogent comments by everybody, but especially Rapporteur.
”I lived in Japan for nine months, and I can tell you this issue of personal space is different in Korea. Strangers are invisible here. People do not move if they are in your way, and will walk right into you even when there is plenty of room.”
From my limited experience I think that is true. I do not want to derail this conversation from it’s more worthy point, but Koreans do have a unique reputation throughout Asia based on different cultural norms.
I don’t think that cost is the issue with testing. My wife is doing Covid testing at a major hospital in Cleveland. All hospitals in our area have been limited in the number of tests they can procure because the manufacturers can only produce them so fast, even under emergency measures. Chemical reagents are the main sticking point.
On top of that, the Federal Government has shifted most of the tests to the most needy areas of the country, namely New Yawk City. This is why only people with actual Wu Flu symptoms are referred for testing, and even many of the mild cases are simply told to go home and recover in solitude without ever getting a test. And not all tests are made in the USA. The most important test my wife uses is based on a machine that reads solutions created by test kits and it is manufactured in Italy. The Italians can give us only so much after they take care of their own people.
Then there is the problem of administering tests. A nurse has to stick a swab so far up your nose that it reaches the back of the nasopharynx. Most people cannot do this themselves because it is just too plain creepy. There was a study that showed people who administered their own nasal swab only got something like 60% accurate results because they could not get good enough samples. The nurses are not 100% perfect either, and sometimes a patient needs to get re-swabbed if the results don’t match expectations.
Now that infections have been slowing down in Ohio, the hospitals have been able to stockpile a certain number of tests because so few people are being referred for testing. However, they are not giving them away anytime soon because the next order of business is to test every single person from the great wave of patients who are coming in for surgery, having been previously put on hold for the last 45 days.
That, in a nutshell is why tests are not quite available to just anyone who wants one.
Nobody is mentioning nursing homes. A large proportion of the deaths have occurred in nursing homes in the US. Nursing homes have not been under the purview of the federal government. 90% of Connecticut’s deaths are in nursing homes. In New Hampshire, it has been over 75%. In western Pennsylvania over 70%. In Rhode Island, it’s 66%, And New York plays with its numbers but it is undoubtedly high.
Rather than looking at Trump, why don’t the Never Trumpers look at some governors in hot spots where most of the deaths have occurred and their ineptitude? This is a federal republic in case the incompetent Never Trumpers don’t realize this. The help the states asked for, the states have gotten and then some from the federal government. But I guess that would be too much for the likes of Never Trumpers. They always put their emotions ahead of reality.
You’re welcome, @garyrobbins. I swore that I wrote up a similar Member Feed post on the differences between the US and South Korea, but I’ll be switched if I could put my hands on it. I verified the points (I thought) I’d made before, and re-Google’d the research links before posting my comment.
I’m not advocating on behalf of, nor in opposition to, either the US or South Korean modes of governance; merely pointing out that they are very, very different.
Thanks for the info I did not know that is why they are so good at it. I did not realize how dependent their processes wereon continuous Big Brother privacy violations.
better prepared for a SARS like ‘crisis’
It’s probably made in Tennessee or Alabama or S. Carolina
I am sure the South Koreans, didnt send recovering patients who were still dangerous to the most vulnerable retirement homes, so that they could infect thousands more like New York did, despite the fact they had empty hospitals and a navy ship.
Remember those doctors Youtube banned?
Hes still at it, and he just had an interview with the guy running Swedens program.
The thing the doctor from Sweden said, was that the number one thing that the USA should have done, and it was a proposal, would have been to isolate the nursing homes as much as possible and quarantine them. That would have saved more lives than the shutdown.
Full video below,