Coronavirus: South Korea’s aggressive testing gives clues about true fatality rate, which is much lower than reported

Coronavirus can kill, but experts are still puzzling over how deadly the disease it causes truly is. Seoul’s aggressive screening regime might hold the answer.


Within a month of confirming its first case of Covid-19 on January 20, South Korea had tested nearly 8,000 people suspected of infection with the new coronavirus that causes the disease. A little over a week later, that number had soared to 82,000 as health officials mobilized to carry out as many 10,000 tests each day Neighboring Japan on the other hand, tested only a fraction of that number, with fewer than 2,000 people checked on any given day since the beginning of its outbreak in late January. So far, more than 6,000 cases have been confirmed in South Korea and over 1,000 in Japan, if you include the  Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in the Port of Yokohoma.
In the United States, where the number of confirmed cases has surpassed 100, health authorities had as recently as this week tested fewer than 500 people in total, hindered by legal and technical barriers to mass screening.
Which is where South Korea’s massive testing effort can come in, providing a valuable reference point for public health experts around the world who are starved of hard data – offering potentially the most comprehensive picture yet of the threat posed by Covid-19 to the general public.

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