COVID-19 -Response. Comparing South Korea and New Zealand During the Pandemic

Scientific Essay, 2021

10 Pages, Grade: 98.5


Comparison of South Korea and New Zealand during the pandemic and how they are controlling the cases

The fact that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is one of the deadliest pandemics in history cannot be overstated. First identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019, COVID-19 has been officially recognized by the World Health Organization has a global Pandemic since March 11th 2020. As an emphasis of its severity, by May 2021, there were an estimated over 160 million cases of the virus confirmed across the world, but more importantly, the virus has been blamed for causing the death of over 3.33 million individuals (Kennedyet al., 2020 p.62). This is complemented by the far-reaching social and economic disruption that the virus has had on individuals, families and communities across the globe.

Of particular significance, despite the threat it continues to have on economies, there remains an inherent lack of consensus among governments and other stakeholders on a best-fit approach to combating the outbreak. On the positive side, there is a widespread agreement among scholars and practitioners in public health not only on a variety of strategies that must be incorporated in an effective framework by governments to control the outbreak, but more so on the criticality of an all-of-government, community-based approach to the implementing of such strategies for assured results (Parket al., 2020 p.2465). These strategies range from testing or screening, contact tracing and isolation of confirmed cases. This paper is a comparison of South Korea and New Zealand during the pandemic with an emphasis on the “how” and extent of effectiveness with which each county is controlling the cases.

In the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, different governments have adopted varied strategies to control the outbreak each with their own strengths and weakness. To this end, South Korea and New Zealand are in record for embracing among the best responses to the pandemic in the globe. Descriptively, South Korea is in the records for being among the countries which adopted an aggressive early response to the pandemic, an element which has had impressive results for the country (Bakeret al., 2020 p.5694). Notably, the country is in the records for being able to flatten the curve for the pandemic without having to lockdown the entire economy or issuing stringent stay-at-home orders, among other strict measures should have marked the responses by majority of other countries across the globe (Kennedyet al., 2020 p.65). Of particular significance, response by South Korea to the pandemic has been threefold.

The South Korean response framework has been defined around widespread testing for early, timely detection of infections, contact tracing and close monitoring and supporting of confirmed cases in quarantine to enhance compliance with existing guidelines. Above all, at the core of this framework was the developing of a set of clear guidelines for the public. In terms of detection, South Korea is in the records for successfully developing of an innovative, high capacity testing/screening program (Park et al., 2020 p.2465). To this end, the government closely worked with the private sector to ensure the adequate production and supply of tests to communities across the nation from the very onset of the pandemic. As an emphasis, the country has an approximated 600 centers for COVID-19 screening and testing and about 150 diagnostics laboratories (Bakeret al., 2020 p.5695). With these facilities in place, the country had reached a testing capacity of as high as 110,000 tests per day by November 2020 (Kimet al., 2021 p.3).

In addition to detection, the response framework for epidemic by South Korea has the provisions for containment and treatment as primary features. In terms of containment, South Korea engaged widespread efforts to isolate infected patients and trace contacts as means for mitigating unchecked spreading of the virus at the community level. To increase compliance with guidelines, the government used aggressive contact tracing and in close monitoring and support measures to enhance compliance with guidelines for infected individuals who were in quarantine (Shimet al., 2020 p.340). As an emphasis, not only did the government deploy hundreds of epidemiological intelligence officers in all local communities across the country (Balmfordet al.,2020 p.530; (Kimet al., 2021 p.3)). Rather, it also granted them authority to access and use data from a wide range of sources – ranging from details of family connection and physical contact history to closed-circuit surveillance television footage and credit card transactions.

In terms of treatment, the government of South Korea embarked a committed effort to expand its epidemic preparedness and response facilities and related capabilities. This can be explained by the fact that, in March 2020 the government recruited an additional 2,400 health workers in Daegu alone, the site of an initial large cluster of infections (Kennedyet al., 2020 p.67). Moreover, the central government assumed a decisive responsibility in funding for restructuring the hospital system in terms of enhancing the physical, personnel, and equipment capacity to effectively handle surging number of cases. Of particular significance, the government funded building of temporary hospitals, especially in high-risk communities and adopted centralized control over personal protective equipment (PPE) to mitigate undue shortages (Parket al., 2020 p.2466).

Other defining features of the pandemic response by the South Korean nation include the existence of an effectively functioning national health insurance system, human resources and healthcare infrastructure capabilities, and reliable inter-institution relationships for an all-of-government commitment to controlling outbreaks. The later is especially evidenced in the constructive collaboration amongst key players from the office of president, Korean centers for disease control and prevention, and the ministries of health, foreign affairs, and education (Bakeret al., 2020 p.5696). With this, the country enjoyed an advantage in implementing a well-coordinated response to the pandemic.

Efforts by the government also enjoyed constructive contributions from the general public, an element that has been linked to their painful memories of the 2015 MERS outbreak (Kimet al., 2021 p.4). Not only was the general public marked with a willingness to wear mask. Rather, the South Korean public also cooperated effectively with contract tracers and was attentive to advice from public health officials (Shimet al., 2020 p.342). Just to note, wearing masks became a social norm early in the pandemic because many Koreans were already used to wearing them in public places as a preventative measure against air pollution (Balmfordet al., 2020 p.525). Specific to its containment measures, South Korea emphasized on strict screening, tracing and quarantining measures, rather than border closure and other travel restrictions.

On the other hand, New Zealand has equally been praised for efficacy of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like the South Korean approach, the response by New Zealand has been characterized by widespread investment in its screening/testing, contact tracing, and tight provisions for quarantining. Widespread screening/testing and aggressive contact tracing measures have been hailed for enabling the country succeed in securing timely detecting and containment of outbreaks for the virus more effectively (Jefferieset al.,2020 p.e614). This is critical in enhancing response to the pandemic as it aids in mitigating undue spreading of such outbreaks. Unlike the case of South Korea, however, response to the pandemic by New Zealand was marked by an initial shut down of all non-essential businesses and borders in the country.

Furthermore, even after combating the initial wave of the pandemic, the country has continued its aggressive effort to combat the outbreak by vigilantly monitoring the outbreak and imposing targeted lockdowns in affected and/or high risk communities. A good example here is the targeted locking down of Auckland which was hard hit by a second wave of the outbreak in August. This is indicative of the fact that compared to South Korea, the response by New Zealand presented with it far-reaching economy of the country as a whole. This can be explained by the fact that while the South Korean government emphasized on testing, tracing, and quarantining with minimal if any restrictions on business operations and travel, initial response by New Zealand centered on shutting down the entire economy (Balmfordet al., 2020 p.526).


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COVID-19 -Response. Comparing South Korea and New Zealand During the Pandemic
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COVID-19, Coronavirus, response, strategy, cases
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Clement Bill (Author), 2021, COVID-19 -Response. Comparing South Korea and New Zealand During the Pandemic, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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