South Korea appears to have more confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) than other countries due to its high diagnostic capability, according to health experts.
A report titled, “The current status of COVID-19 and its problems” published by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs shows that South Korea has tested a total of 75,792 people for COVID-19 as of Monday while Japan and the U.S. have tested only 2,517 and 472, respectively. The number of South Korea’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 stood at 4,212 and 5.6% of people tested have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The figure is almost twice as high in Japan with the confirmed cases of COVID-19 standing at 239 despite the fact that much fewer people are being tested.
South Korean health authorities have argued that the country has a high number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 because it is testing more people at a faster pace. “We’ve made more prompt efforts than any other countries to prevent the spread of the disease,” said Kim Kang-lib of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters on Friday. “We’re preemptively testing a higher percentage of population than that of any other countries for the early detection of the disease.”
Much attention is being paid to South Korea’s diagnostic capability by the foreign media. Japan’s Nihon Keizai Shimbun wrote on Thursday, “It is hard to deny that Japan is belated in its response to the coronavirus outbreak,” and mentioned South Korea’s prompt diagnostic system. Bloomberg reported that South Korea “created a system to allow rapid approval of testing kits for viruses,” taking a lesson from an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2015.