Hi! My name is Amy, and I’m the Marketing Operations Intern.
Usually, I’m writing blog posts and publishing social media content for LivNao on behalf of the company. However, with the recent COVID-19 outbreak, I thought it would be helpful to shed some light on my unique experience with the situation in two different countries.
As a Bay Area native and a UC Berkeley student, I’m constantly observing and living in the Silicon Valley startup environment and the latest innovations in North American technology. However, due to the pandemic, I’ve recently flown over to South Korea to be with my family during these trying times.
Though moving from country to country was a bit stressful, it was also fascinating to experience the stark difference between the two nations in terms of their approach to COVID-19.
I’m from California, where the outbreak is exponentially increasing at an alarming rate. However, there is a lack of proper resources, including masks, contact tracing, and widespread testing. The disunity of the nation in its approach towards public health, funding, and transparency increased the hysteria around the virus and misinformed xenophobia towards the Asian diaspora. It was the first time the United States had ever faced an epidemic like this, and their lack of preparation created devastating consequences.
However, South Korea was a different case. In the early months of the outbreak, South Korea topped the international charts right behind China with the highest number of positive cases. For months, South Korea struggled to keep numbers down, but has recently slowed the virus’s growth through recent data. Compared to its peak on February 29th with 909 new cases, the nation dropped to a mere 74 cases on March 19th. This shift symbolized hope and the importance of technology in its efforts to contain the virus.
Upon arriving at the Incheon airport, I was asked to download the Self-Diagnosis app. This app was created by the Korean Ministry of Health to monitor all travelers entering the country. Through this app, the government is able to track all symptoms and possible cases of recent entrants and provides information regarding prevention, nearby screening clinics and instant messaging with the Ministry of Health.
While the United States is scrambling to find enough toilet paper and are shunning the use of masks, it’s like a utopia for supplies in South Korea. After struggling to use baby wipes and searching up DIY hand sanitizer back in California, I was shocked to find bottles of hand sanitizer in every store, restaurant, mall, and even elevator. Masks are rationed out everyday for $1.23 each and it’s rare to find anyone walking around without protective covering.
Despite the continued risk of the virus, I feel quite safe here. When I head out for a short walk or a trip to the grocery store, I see families, couples, and elderly walking around with their masks, taking all the necessary precautions while keeping their cool. The panic buying has ceased, so the stores and pharmacies are well stocked with the supplies needed to best the situation.
It all comes down to preparation and the innovation of Korea’s technology. Through their past experiences with the MERS outbreak, the South Koreans have learned to emphasize the importance of contract tracing, public health education, and quarantine in order to contain an epidemic as soon as possible.
These lessons can and need to be applied to the rest of the world, and that’s why LivNao is making their technology available to launch contact tracing in North America. The United States has accumulated the highest number of cases in a matter of weeks and every day there are more people dying from the virus.
How can you help? Spread the word and let your local government know how important contact tracing is for your community.