As millions of Indians face the wrath of lockdown, South Korea suggests how it could have been avoided
South Korea had over 9,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, which puts it among the top 10 countries for total cases
South Korea not only controlled the virus but also created a model for others to follow
Health experts are noting how the nation has managed to significantly slow the number of new cases
The country appears to have reined in the outbreak without some of the strict lockdown strategies
"We've seen South Korea, where governments haven't had to shut everything down," said Mike Ryan, head of the WHO's Health Emergencies Programme.
"It has been able to make tactical decisions regarding schools, movements
South Korea has been able to move forward without some of the draconian measures."
Countries that have tested widely like South Korea have managed to suppress transmission of the virus.
President Trump has also praised South Korea's handling of the health crisis
Trump even asked President Moon Jae-in for help with medical equipment to fight the outbreak in the US
The head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has called on other countries to apply the lessons learned in South Korea
South Korea's foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, shared the key lessons from her country
It developed testing for the virus even before it had a significant number of cases
"In mid-January, our health authorities quickly conferred with the research institutions here ," Kang said.
"They shared that result with the pharmaceutical companies, who then produced the equipment needed for the testing."
So when people in Daegu started getting sick in February, South Korea was able to rapidly confirm that it was COVID-19.
"Testing is central" to the outbreak response, said Kang, "because that leads to early detection.
It minimizes further spread." And it allows health authorities to quickly isolate and treat those found with the virus.
Hong Kong and Singapore have followed similar paths in responding to this outbreak.
They've used testing aggressively to identify cases, not only testing people who are so sick but mild cases and even suspected cases.
They've quarantined tens of thousands of people who may have been exposed to confirmed cases.
The vast majority of the people ordered to quarantine at home are perfectly healthy and never do get sick
The few who do develop symptoms can be quickly isolated further.
Tedros of the WHO refers to this as cutting off the virus at the bud
Basically stopping the virus from spreading further and preventing community transmission.
South Korea has been able to keep most factories, shopping malls and restaurants open.
Few other countries like Japan and Singapore also followed the same and succeeded
India needed a proactive response rather than the reactive one
India is still not testing enough to prevent the spread
If Indian government had prepared for required testing, lockdown could have been avoided.