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COVID-19 containment efforts to move beyond 'quarantine' to 'mitigation' strategy Updated: 2020-02-25 09:00:51 KST

South Korea's efforts to fight the coronavirus outbreak will move beyond the current "quarantine" strategy to a "mitigation" strategy.

A quarantine strategy is applied in the early stages of an outbreak, when the primary goal is blocking the virus from entering the country, such as by enhancing inspections at airports or issuing travel restrictions.

This strategy is still vital in the beginning stage of community-based transmissions, where the country should still focus on isolating infected patients and those they have been in contact with.

But when the outbreak enters an advanced stage where the virus spreads into general communities, it is time to move on to a new strategy as it becomes impossible to track the links between patients.

"In that phase, the country should focus on mitigating the total damage to society.
It should use limited resources more effectively by separating patients based on the severity of their symptoms and dedicating more resources to high-risk patients."

On Monday, following the latest spike in infections, the government announced that the country is in a transitional period where both strategies will be carried out simultaneously.

"Following the upgrade in crisis alert level, we are going to apply the mitigation strategy to special management zones while keeping the quarantine strategy in place elsewhere depending on the respective level of contagion."

Prior to the government's announcement, some 11 medical communities suggested specific plans for the strategy on Saturday.
Topping the list was establishing an emergency medical delivery system, citing the case of Daegu which is currently suffering from medical shortages due to the series of clusters of infections.
Experts also said companies should allow ill workers to work from home and use flexible work hours without a doctors' prescription.

However, experts added that as well as the government's measures, it is crucial that the public follow personal hygiene advice to prevent an explosive surge of infections.

Lee Kyung-eun, Arirang News.
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