(CNN)South Korea has been widely praised as a Covid-19 success story. How did they do it? CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks to CNN reporter Paula Hancocks in Seoul about how South Korea has learned to live with the virus.
Lessons from South Korea: Dr. Sanjay Gupta's coronavirus podcast for June 24
You can listen on your favorite podcast app or read the transcript below.
Al Jazeera: As the coronavirus pandemic keeps spreading, how is it that South Korea seems to have controlled it, and why is the United States so far behind?
CBS: "Test, trace, treat" has been South Korea's mantra.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta: South Korea has been widely praised for how they handled the spread of the coronavirus. As of today, there are fewer than 300 deaths — that's a huge deal when you compare it to the United States, where we have over 120,000 deaths. Now even if you take the different populations into account, this means that one in every 100,000 people in South Korea's population died from the virus. In the United States, it's 37 out of every 100,000.
It's even more striking when I tell you that South Korea and the United States announced their first confirmed cases of Covid-19 just one day apart in January. And by February, South Korea had the largest outbreak in the world outside of China.
But by April the number of new cases were down to single digits, and life in South Korea started to go back to normal — schools even started reopening in May.
But then clusters of infections started to pop up again. More than 100 cases were linked to a nightclub in Seoul.
France24: Today the country is bracing for a second wave of infections. This after new spikes in coronavirus cases linked to Seoul's nightlife, which now threaten the densely populated capital.
Gupta: Just this week, Korean health officials acknowledged that the country was now in the middle of a second wave.
But still there are so many things we can learn from South Korea. How did they control the outbreak without a national lockdown? And what does all of this mean for the country as it goes through the second wave?
I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent. And this is "Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction."
Paula Hancocks, CNN international correspondent: The government responded very quickly. It was a swift response. There's no doubt about that. And that is what has allowed this country to cope so well with this pandemic.
Gupta: That's my colleague CNN International Correspondent Paula Hancocks, who's based in Seoul. She covers South Korea and has been following the country's Covid-19 response. I spoke to her this week about why the country has been so effective at containing the virus.
Hancocks: So the first case was on January 20. And then just several days later, the government and health officials decided to get some of the biotech companies together. So there's more than 20 of them. They got in a room together and said there is a potential for this to become an epidemic, a pandemic. We need to start thinking about how to test for this.
Now, that was incredibly early compared to many other countries. In fact, there was one company, Seegene, who started working on it, on testing and diagnostic tests, before there had been a single case in South Korea when it was still considered to be a Chinese problem.
Gupta: Paula, why do you think that was, that even before there was a case, they were already working on some of these — these plans? Was this because of lessons that were learned from — from SARS?
Hancocks: South Korea has been through this before. You mentioned SARS. They also had MERS back in 2015. And the response was not great to those particular viruses. South Korea made mistakes. Lives were lost and lessons were definitely learned.