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COVID-19 pandemic in South Korea

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COVID-19 pandemic in South Korea
COVID-19 in South Korea - Photo montage.jpg
From top to bottom then from left to right: a queue in front of a pharmacy in Wonju for the distribution of masks, a drone of disinfection in Seongnam, a closed elementary school in Daegu, protest inscriptions against Shincheonji on a car, video call between members of the South Korean government, manufacturing of masks in Busan, 2020 South Korean legislative election, admission of a symptomatic patient to a hospital in Busan, portable medical negative pressure isolation stretcher in a fire station in Hoengseong County, firefighters' training in Daegu, thermal camera at the entrance to Wonju hospital, temperature check at Incheon International Airport, drive-through testing in Gyeongju.
COVID-19 Outbreak Cases in South Korea (Density).svg
Map of special cities & municipals with confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases (as of 5 March 2022):
  Confirmed 1~9,999
  Confirmed 10,000~99,999
  Confirmed ≥100,000
Coronavirus Outbreak in South Korea over Time.gif
Coronavirus pandemic in South Korea over time (since 20 January 2020).
 
  Number of cases (logarithmically)
  Day not included in map
  Day included in map
  Last day included in map
DiseaseCOVID-19
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
LocationSouth Korea
First outbreakWuhan, Hubei, China
Index caseIncheon International Airport
Arrival date20 January 2020
(2 years, 6 months, 3 weeks and 6 days)
Confirmed cases21,418,036[1]
Severe cases1,073[2]
Deaths
25,673[1]
Fatality rate0.12%
Vaccinations
  • 45,094,464[1] (total vaccinated)
  • 44,657,941[1] (fully vaccinated)
  • 128,198,087[1] (doses administered)
Government website
ncov.mohw.go.kr/en

The COVID-19 pandemic in South Korea is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first case in South Korea was announced on 20 January 2020.[3] The number of confirmed cases increased on 19 February by 20, and on 20 February by 58[4] or 70,[5] giving a total of 346 confirmed cases on 21 February 2020, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), with the sudden jump mostly attributed to "Patient 31" who participated in a gathering at a Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony church in Daegu.[5][6]

Amidst fears of further contamination, mass gatherings in the affected cities were cancelled and about 300 soldiers in Daegu were placed in isolation.[7][8] On 4 February 2020, in order to help prevent spread of the disease, South Korea began denying entry to foreigners traveling from Hubei Province in China.[9][10]

South Korea introduced what was considered one of the largest and best-organised epidemic control programs in the world, along with Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam.[11][12][13] Various measures have been taken to mass test the population for the virus, and isolate any infected people as well as trace and quarantine those they had contact with, without any further lockdown.[14][15] The rapid and extensive testing undertaken by South Korea has been judged successful in limiting the spread of the outbreak, without using the drastic measure of locking down entire cities.[14][16][17] Despite these successful measures, however, a significant rise in the number of new infections has occurred beginning in August 2020, with clusters being linked to Protestant churches in the metropolitan Seoul area.[18][19] Another rise began in the third week of November, and Seoul has since entered a third wave of infections.[20] On 24 November, the government raised the social distancing level in Seoul to level 2.[21] On 29 November, the social distancing level in other areas of the country was raised to 1.5.[22] In December, it was raised to level 2.5 in some metropolitan areas and 2 in other areas.[23] In early 2022, there was a major spike in cases related to Omicron, with 170 thousand cases reported on February 22.[24]

South Korea began relaxing social distancing rules on 4 March 2022 and announced a shift toward endemic living on 18 March.[25][26][27] It lifted its vaccine mandate and quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated travelers on 1 April.[28][29] The number of new daily reported cases peaked at 621,317 on 16 March 2022 and the number of daily deaths peaked at 432 on 29 March 2022.[30]

Timeline

Epidemic curve of COVID-19 in South Korea