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Since the first confirmed case on January 20th in Korea, the whole nation has been suffering from the COVID-19 for 2 months by the upcoming March 19th. OhmyNews diagnoses the current spread of COVID-19 with the analysis of deaths, timelines and re-meeting experts on the issue.[편집자말]
[January 20th] Just Before the Holidays… The First Confirmed Case Occurred
 
Jeong Eun-kyung, Head of KCDC, is briefing related to the COVID-19. Jeong Eun-kyung, Head of KCDC, is briefing related to the COVID-19 at Sejong Government Building in Sejong City on January 20th afternoon. ⓒ Yonhap News Agency
 
Sejong Government Building at 1:30 p.m. on January 20th, 2020.

"At 8 a.m. on January 20th, KCDC confirmed that a patient from Wuhan, China was infected by a new virus, the COVID-19. Accordingly, the risk alert level for infectious diseases in Korea has been raised from 'Attention' to 'Caution'."

Jeong Eun-kyung, Head of KCDC, explained, "The results of the test were based on fever and other symptoms from the resident in Wuhan, China, who arrived the previous day." About a month before, the COVID-19 revealed its presence in Wuhan, China with the pneumonia of unknown causes. Later on January 27th, the Korean government raised the crisis alert further to 'Warning.' From the next day, Chung has held a regular press briefing in a yellow jumper.
 
[January 30th] Until "Against Korean Residents in Wuhan" Turned into "Welcome"
  
On Jan. 30th afternoon, while Chin Young, Minister of Public Administration and Security, and Governor Yang Seung-jo of Chungcheongnam-do Province are explaining the acceptance of Korean residents in Wuhan where the COVID-19 has infected, a local resident in Chungcheongnam-do is voicing opposition. ⓒ Lee Hee Hoon
 
When China blocked Wuhan area for quarantine reasons, the governments all over the world began operations to "Bring Our Own People." On January 24th, the Korean government also decided to bring Korean citizens living in Wuhan, but the problem was 'Where' to put them. After much consideration, the government selected Jincheon in Chungcheongbuk-do Province and Asan in Chungcheongnam-do Province. However, the local residents, surprised by the threat of infectious diseases and the sudden decision, strongly protested the decision. Finally, on January 30th, Chin Young, Minister of Public Administration and Security, began to persuade them in person. The next day, the local residents welcomed waving signs when the buses carrying the 1st group of Korean citizens from Wuhan entered Police Human Development Institute in Asan.

 "Welcome!! Please make yourself at home!"
 "Welcome!! We Root for You!"

  
[February 5th] Hopes Spring up Little by Little… "You are my heroes!"
 
Cho Seung-yeon (left), Head of Incheon Medical Center, and Kim Jin-yong, Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases in Incheon Medical Center, are explaining to the reporters about the letter the first confirmed patient sent to the medical team. On Feb. 6th afternoon, the first confirmed patient was decided to be discharged from the hospital. ⓒ Yonhap News Agency
 
On February 5th, Korea had the first fully cured patient. It was the second patient confirmed to have been infected. The next day, the first confirmed patient was also discharged from the hospital in 18 days. This Chinese national man thanked the medical staff at Incheon Medical Center for treating him and sent a letter saying, "You are my heroes." However, the medical team said the original letter was discarded to prevent the spreading of infection.
 
[February 18th] An Unexpected Variable Appeared
 
On March 1st in Jung-gu, Daegu, some 50 soldiers of the 2nd Operation Headquarters are conducting quarantine and disinfection operations during the holiday around Daegu Shincheonji Church to prevent the spread of the COVID-19. ⓒ Yonhap News Agency
 
On February 18th, the 31st confirmed case came out. The following day, KCDC said 15 additional confirmed cases occurred among those the 31st patient contacted at Daegu Sincheonji Church. It was the beginning of the mass infection of Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do Province. The number of newly confirmed patients a day, which had been on the verge of a single digit, has increased by two or three digits since then, and finally hit the highest record of 909 cases on February 29th (as of 9 a.m.). KCDC began the full-scale survey of Sincheonji churchgoers, while raising the crisis alert to the highest level 'Seriousness' on February 23rd.

[February 19th] The First Death Was a Long-stay Patient in Daenam Hospital
  
On March 15th afternoon, the medical teams in protective clothing are heading for the ward for their shift where the COVID-19 patients are hospitalized. ⓒ OhmyNews
 
The first COVID-19 death case was reported in Korea. The victim without family or friends had been hospitalized in the psychotic ward in Cheongdo Daenam Hospital for 20 years. Due to being hospitalized in the closed ward for a long time, the patients' level of immunity in Daenam Hospital was weakened and they were vulnerable to the COVID-19. Since then, a number of confirmed cases have been reported at community facilities such as nursing homes and hospitals. KCDC announced that 39 deaths out of 75 were group infections as of midnight on March 16th. KCDC also said that 10 out of the 39 deaths were patients related to Daenam Hospital.
 
[February 23rd] The Start of School Year Delayed and Delayed Again… The Religious Circles in Korea Also All Stopped Events 
 
Yoo Eun-hae, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, is holding a press conference at the joint briefing room of the Seoul Government Complex in Jongno-gu, Seoul on March 17th to announce her decision to postpone the start of the new semester, explaining the grounds for judgment and follow-up measures. ⓒ You Sung ho
 
On February 23rd, the Ministry of Education decided to postpone the start of the school year at kindergartens, elementary, middle and high schools nationwide (March 2nd → March 9th) due to the result of a series of confirmed cases in Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do Province. However, the conditions hardly improved. On March 17th, the Ministry of Education announced that the start of the school year would be delayed again from March 23rd (which was postponed the second time) to April 6th. Buddhist circles and Catholic circles joined the government's efforts with the suspension of religious events. The quarantine authorities set up the drive-through screening centers, starting with Kyungpook National University Hospital in Chilgok on February 23rd, in order to catch 'a small fire' in addition to 'the big fire' called Sincheonji.
 
[March 2nd] The Founder & Leader of Shincheonji Appeared Wearing 'Park Geun-hye' Watch
 
Lee Man-hee, Founder & Leader of Shincheonji Wearing 'Park Geun-hye Watch' In front of ‘Peace Palace’ in Goseong-ri, Cheongpyeong-myeon, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do, March 2nd afternoon, Lee Man-hee, the founder & leader of Shincheonji, is holding a press conference related to the COVID-19, wearing ‘Park Geun-hye watch’ with the presidential phoenix insignia. ⓒ Lee Hee hoon
 
Lee Man-hee, the founder & leader of Shincheonji, took the initiative as the COVID-19 spread rapidly around the Sincheonji Church. At the press conference held in front of 'Peace Palace' in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi-do Province on March 2nd, Lee promised to fully cooperate with the government. Nevertheless, some pointed out that there were problems with the lists of the church members submitted by Shincheon Church. On March 5th, CDSCHQ (Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters) conducted an administrative investigation at Shincheonji headquarters in Gwacheon with the prosecution's forensic supports to check the accuracy of the list once again. Meanwhile, Lee Man-hee said that he had received the result of the COVID-19 negative judgment before the press conference, but Lee Jae-myung, Gyeonggi-do Province Governor, headed directly to 'Peace Palace', questioning Lee's test credibility. However, Lee Man-hee left the palace and went to Gwacheon before the governor arrived. Lee Man-hee was re-examined at the health center in Gwacheon and tested negative.

[March 9th] "No Masks Available" → "Come on the designated day based on the 5-day rotation"
 
On March 9th morning, when the 5-day rotation system begins, a citizen enters a pharmacy to purchase face masks in Bokhyun-dong, Buk-gu, Daegu. ⓒ Cho Jeong-hoon
  
'We Have No Available Masks.'

Every pharmacy put the same notice again and again. The increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases was attributed to a growing number of people who sought masks to prevent the disease. Even if the government banned the mask exports and secured half of the total output in public sales, masks were always insufficient. In the end, 'the 5-day Rotation Plan' came out on March 5th. The system is designed to allow people to buy masks on the designated day from Monday to Friday based on the end numbers of the years they were born. However, the amount will be limited to 2 masks per person, and they can buy them on weekends regardless of the birth years.
 
[March 10th] 'Social Distancing' Was a Luxury to Them
 
With quarantine authorities operating a screening center for the residents and the workers at Korea Building in Sindorim-dong, Guro-gu, Seoul, where a large-scale of confirmed 'COVID-19' was found at a call center in the building. On March 11th afternoon, the screening center seems to be quiet because most of the people related to the confirmed patients there have completed the sample collection. ⓒ Kwon Woo Sung
 
While 'the big fire' seemed to die down, on March 10th, a call center in Guro-gu, Seoul, emerged as a new group infection site. The number of confirmed cases was 134 persons (as of midnight on March 17th), and it was the largest in the capital area. The call center staff had to keep talking without masks in a narrow environment due to their work characteristics. Despite the early symptoms, many of the workers came to work as usual. In the regular press briefing on March 16th, Jeong Eun-kyung, Head of KCDC, said, "We should prepare for the long-term war against the COVID-19." Adding that, she also said we have to change the culture 'We work though sick' into 'We rest when sick.'

[March 12th] Pandemic
 
The Planes Furled Their Wings in the Pandemic Crisis In the COVID-19 pandemic crisis worldwide, airlines continue to reduce and suspend flights. More planes than usual are on the moorings at Incheon International Airport on March 17th afternoon. ⓒ Kwon Woo Sung
 
On March 12th, WHO (the World Health Organization) finally declared 'Pandemic' alert, the highest level of infectious diseases. It was the first time in 11 years since the swine flu outbreak in 2009 and the number of COVID-19 infections worldwide had already exceeded 120,000 (as of March 11th). Europe, which has seen a surge in the confirmed cases, has effectively closed its borders. There are also a growing number of countries that limit the operation of commercial and religious facilities, assembly and movement citizens as well. Looking at Korea, who has been fighting against the COVID-19 earlier, many people are thinking about how to get through the new era of infectious diseases. Even at this moment, we are looking for an answer together.
 
Written by Ryu Ji Young.
Translated by Youngae Joanna Kim.

* This report is the English version of OhmyNews Korean article. If you want to read the original article in Korean, click here!.
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