Covid-19 has spread rapidly since January 20th, 2020, when the first infector was found in Korea, causing a severe blow not only in Korea but also to the whole globe. It is no exaggeration to say that Covid-19, which now has enough influence to paralyze the society and economy of many countries, has changed the world in 2020. Masks have become daily necessities, and our former social lives, which were taken for granted, have turned into memories due to social distancing. Amid the nightmare that the world is going through, this article will introduce the definition of Covid-19, its origin, and its disastrous influence.
Corona Virus Infection-19 (also called Covid-19 in short) is defined as a respiratory syndrome caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection, which was first announced in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019. In mid-December, 30 to 40 cases of people with pneumonia with unknown causes were hospitalized in Wuhan, China. It gradually spread and was registered as the name Corona Virus Infection-19 by WHO (World Health Organization). Covid-19 is commonly transmitted directly or indirectly through contaminated objects or surfaces. It can be contracted by close contact with the infected via mouth and nose secretions. These include saliva, respiratory secretions, or secretion droplets. After an average incubation period of four to seven days, varying respiratory symptoms from mild to severe are shown, such as fever, lethargy, coughing, difficulty in breathing. Moreover, additional symptoms such as phlegm, sore throat, headache, and diarrhea can also occur. The average global fatality rate of Covid-19 is 3.5 percent varying by country and age. Although this rate is not extremely high, considering that Covid-19 treatment has not been developed so far, it is not easy to ignore Covid-19.
Since the first case in Korea occurred in January, the spread has continued to repetitively increase and decrease. On September 20th, 2020, 22,975 cumulative confirmed cases and 388 cumulative deaths were reported. The government's opinion was that the size of the infection could grow bigger at any time as a series of new confirmed cases were occurring in various places. According to statistics from the Worldometers, which reports the world's most recent confirmed number and deaths in real-time, the cumulative number of confirmed cases worldwide totaled 30,981,830 and the cumulative number of deaths was 961,337 in September 2020. The United States, which has the largest number of confirmed cases globally, had reported about 7 million cumulative confirmed cases and nearly 200,000 cumulative deaths. Among those confirmed cases was U.S. President Trump, who got infected in October 2020. His diagnosis put the world in shock. India was followed by the U.S. with about 5.4 million cumulative confirmed cases and 80,000 cumulative deaths. Then Brazil followed India with about 4.5 million cumulative confirmed cases and 130,000 cumulative deaths.
On February 28, the Korean Medical Association proposed to practice 'social distancing' to prevent the spreading of the disease, which later led to the widespread use of the term 'social distancing' in Korea. Meanwhile, on June 28, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters decided to implement social distancing in stages 1 to 3 depending on the severity of the Covid-19 epidemic and the intensity of quarantine measures. The lowest level, the first phase of social distancing, is also called "distancing in life" and is the stage where spread of the disease's scale is small and at a level that the medical system can handle. The second stage is the stage where the Covid-19 trend continues to spread beyond the usual level of medical care. The final stage, Phase 3, is applied to a large-scale epidemic of Covid-19 in the community, where the daily number of confirmed cases doubles more than twice a week. The official social distancing stages are divided into 1 to 3. Still, the government announced stage 2.5 in August to strengthen quarantine measures in Seoul and the metropolitan area as the daily number of confirmed cases exceeded 200 for ten days. The government allowed general restaurants and bakeries to only offer take-out and delivery from 21:00 to 05:00, and cafes were only allowed to offer take-out and delivery services regardless of time. In addition, to prevent the spread among students, all educational institutes such as schools and academies were closed for a while, and only non-face-to-face classes and lectures were allowed. Moreover, many workplaces have conducted telecommuting and non-face-to-face meetings, and businesses were recommended to reduce the number of employees in the workplace.
The impact of Covid-19 is further leading to an economic blow. China's expanded quarantine and factory closures continued to disrupt the supply chain. This led to demand for medical supplies, medical staff, quarantine facilities and medical facilities increase, resulting in an economic imbalance. Airlines, hotels, travel agencies, restaurants and transportation services was hit hard due to an inevitable drop in sales and series of bookings cancellation from travelers. Also, many people reduced dining out and preferred take-outs and delivery services, which directly hit restaurant and café dine-in business owners. There are countless cases of business closure and unemployment due to Covid-19. In fact, Covid-19 has caused changes to people's spending culture, which actually led to a decrease in credit card use in the first half of 2020, while credit card loans increased. Therefore, in order to ease the economic downturn and revive the local economy, the government announced various support measures. In addition to emergency disaster support funds for small business owners whose sales declined due to the prolonged period of the pandemic, the government provided emergency employment stabilization subsidies, special child care subsidies, special job support for young people, and living expenses needed during hospitalization and isolation. They also provided support by providing local economic money for the purpose of promoting the consumption of local market products to revive the community's economy. During Covid-19, the balance between disease control and economic revitalization is required because a consistent response with a strong lockdown policy to stop the disease can lead to a severe economic recession.
As mentioned above, Covid-19 has affected many aspects around the world since the beginning of 2020. Even though the Korean government is responding to Covid-19 crisis by proposing various policies to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and reduce the economic downturn, according to a survey conducted by Embrain Monitor, a market research firm, the public's responses were "During Covid-19, I felt Korea is like a developed country.", "I don't feel trust in the government's policy and the government is not dealing with diplomatic issues wisely." and others. It is also expected that solving economic problems of communities will be a very important task at the end of Covid-19. However, what is most crucial in the current situation is the citizens who cooperate with the Covid-19 response guidelines and maintain calmness, and the medical staff who jump into the field with transparent management and mission from the government. Also, individual efforts in daily life, such as wearing masks, sanitizing and washing hands frequently will be a great help to the quick end of the pandemic.
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