Korea and Latvia on the frontline of COVID19

  • 2020-05-10
  • Ambassador Seong-Jin Han/Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Riga, Latvia

We, Koreans and Latvians, share a lot in common, not only we are like-minded partners with strong ties based on common values and geographical, historical challenges, but also the way how our nations deal with the recent COVID19 situation. Bold and swift measures, as well as whole-of-society engagement, have allowed Korea and Latvia to control the spread of virus while keeping economy open.

As a global community, we have been facing an unprecedented time of crisis, and each country has come up with its own strategy based on its unique situation. We can find and draw on some common lessons from the countries, including Korea. Also Latvia has been held up as an exemplar among nations attempting to tackle Covid-19. A key reason for the Latvia's success in halting the spread of the virus so far, were the early steps taken by the government.

Korea’s fight against COVID19 is based on the TRUST campaign organized by the Korean Government. The core values that the Republic of Korea is pursuing in response to the COVID19 crises are transparency, responsibility, united actions, science and speed, ‘together in solidarity’.

Widespread testing is the key to containing and suppressing the spread of the virus. With massive testing, we can detect the patients early, track the contacts of the patients early and isolate them early to limit the spread of the virus. The more testing, the better. The quicker the testing, the better. South Korea can test up to 20,000 cases daily thanks to our past experience of MERS and SARS, when we struggled to implement aggressive testing quickly enough because of the lack of testing kits. Since then we have changed our regulations and way of preparing for the emergency.

As of May 5th, we have tested around 640,200 people. Also today Korea reported zero new locally transmitted coronavirus cases. We have been innovative in pioneering tools such as drive-through and walk-through testing stations, phonebooth- style testing facilities and smartphone applications to support our efforts. Exhibition halls and public venues installed body sterilizers to spray on visitors passing through malls, and other venues used thermal scanners to test visitors’ body temperature.

I would like to specifically note the responsibility of Latvian people – in Korea we know how important is that the people are following the guidelines for social-distancing and taking personal sanitary measures. In the spirit of solidarity, Korea is open to sharing its best practices, information and lessons learned with the global community. Through coordinated efforts, Korea continues to produce testing kits with improved production capacity, and already more than 100 countries have shown interest in them.

We do know that the virus has fed on complacency. We must help one another with solidarity. We are all in this together! Stay strong and stay safe!