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S. Korea marks 600th day since 1st case reported Updated: 2021-09-10 10:27:45 KST

Today that is Friday marks DAY 600 since Korea reported its first case of COVID-19.
MUCH has transpired since then with authorities NOW plotting an exit plan from the pandemic having inoculated over 60-percent of the population with at least one dose.
I have Choi Won-jong here in the studio todaywith more on his coverage of COVID-19 over the past year and a half.
Won-jong welcome.

Good to be here.

So you've been covering the pandemic since day one and continue to do so.
What has it been like?

Let me begin by saying, what a journey it has been reporting on the pandemic for nearly two years now.
I still remember the early days when the daily tallies used to be in the single or double digits.
But little did I imagine, we now see more than 260-thousand total cases.
I would like to point out that the Korean government has put up a fight to contain the virus the best they could.
And that's something I would like to share with you today in more detail.

Before vaccines became available testing, along with tracing and treatment, formed the BACKBONE Korea's containment strategy.
Back in May, Seoul's nightlife district of Itaewon was hit by a large cluster outbreak.
Many people who were there were reluctant to come forward and get tested out of privacy concerns.
The government found a solution by offering ANONYMOUS testing throughout the city.
That encouraged thousands of people to get tested at the time, which helped to contain the outbreak BEFORE it spread any further.

And speaking of testing, Korea applied innovative ideas like walk-inand drive-thru test centers, to allow for quicker screenings as well as the non-contact testing center to protect healthcare workers.

And authorities didn't stop there Won-jong.
Once vaccines began to roll out they were up for a new task.

Maintaining a reliable cold chain was one of the biggest challenges for the Korean government.
I had a chance to step inside a storage room for Pfizer vaccines,

where I believe the temperature was below minus 80 degree Celsius.
I was able to witness first hand how efficiently the vaccines were stored, handled, and transported.
Korea's vaccination campaign may have started off a bit late, compared to countries like the U.S. and the UK,
but it's now vaccinate more than 60 percent of the nation's people, thanks to the vast infrastructure up and running.

Right over 60-percent of the population with ONE DOSE as we speak.
And I hear you also got your FIRST SHOT this week?

Yes, I did.
In fact, I still feel a little sore in my left arm right now, but thankfully no major side-effects.
I'm sure there are many viewers out there who are looking forward to seeing what the vaccination process looks like.
so let's take a look.

Wednesday, September 8th was the day that I finally got vaccinated.
My original appointment was for September 30th which I thought… was a bit late.
Health authorities have been allowing people with vaccine appointments AFTER Chuseok…
to reschedule to an earlier date,…
as part of efforts to reach a vaccination rate of 70 percent… before the holidays.
I was able to move my appointment as well,… and got my vaccine three weeks earlier.
On the day I got my vaccine,… I was worried about its potential side effects,… but thankfully, the medical staff on-site… were eager to answer all of my questions.

"I was curious to know if I needed to take Tylenol, but you're saying it isn't necessary to do that before getting vaccinated, right?"
"There's no need to take Tylenol before getting a vaccine and doing so can actually lead to side effects."

Finally, it was my turn to get the shot.
A medical worker there… double-checked all the details with me… to make sure I was getting the right dose.

"Do you know which dose you're getting today?"
"I'm getting my first dose today."
"Yes, that's right."

I'm not usually afraid of needles,… but I was much more nervous than I had expected.

"This can sting a bit. Please stay still."

I got my bandage, and onto the next step: waiting 15 minutes to monitor for potential side effects.
Then, I was curious if others were also worried about side effects.

"I too was worried about vaccine side effects, but getting inoculated is still the right thing to do if I want to keep my family safe. Protecting them far outweighs the risk of the possible side effects."

A nurse who's been assigned here since July… and was forced to leave her hometown in the process… said she feels a personal responsibility… to do her part for the greater good.

"It's true that the work is exhausting, but I feel like I've done my part when I see the country's vaccination rate climbing higher. I would like to continue working until everyone has been vaccinated. That's my goal."

Now, I feel like having an extra layer of ease and confidence, knowing that I have a lower chance of passing on COVID-19 to my friends, family, and the people I interview.

Right and that goes for the two of us.
Thank you for that report Won-jong.

My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
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