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Press Release

(3.26) Regular Briefing of Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters on COVID-19

  • Date : 2020-03-26
  • Hit : 1835

Regular Briefing of Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters on COVID-19

- ▲Implementation status of social distancing, ▲measures to enhance efficiency of self-quarantine, and ▲infection control and support measures for nursing hospitals, etc. -

□ The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters held a meeting today presided over by Head Chung Sekyun (Prime Minister) along with the central government and 17 cities and provinces to discuss ▲implementation status of social distancing, ▲measures to enhance efficiency of self-quarantine, and ▲infection control and support measures for nursing hospitals at the Central Disaster and Safety Management Center in Government Complex Seoul.

□ Head Chung told, at the meeting, that he also thought the completion of the enhanced social distancing on April 6 (Mon) and afterward will not naturally bring us back to normal, emphasizing that we should cautiously keep ourselves prepared.

○ He also said starting school semester requires enough communication and preparation, asking the relevant ministries including the Ministry of Education and the local governments to fully gather various opinions from the public in advance.

○ In addition, he directed the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and relevant agencies to rapidly develop mask supply prediction system, allowing them to predict status regarding supply and demand of masks on a weekly basis, and set up countermeasures in advance.


1. Implementation status of social distancing


□ The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters was reported and reviewed the implementation status of the enhanced social distancing by Busan, Daegu, Ulsan, Gyeongbuk, and Gyeongnam.

○ The five cities and provinces briefed mainly on awareness-raising measures for stronger social distancing, current inspection status of religious, indoor sports, and entertainment facilities whether to comply with infection prevention guidelines, and follow-up measures.

□ The Headquarters is also carrying out on-site inspections along with the local governments to check if stricter social distancing is well practiced nationwide.

○ On March 25 (Wed), 50,216 facilities, such as call centers, religious, indoor sports, entertainment facilities, were inspected, and an administrative guidance was placed on 4,344 facilities confirmed to have breached the infection prevention and control guideline according to the on-site inspection results.

□ Head Chung expressed gratitude to each local government and citizens for putting great efforts including practicing social distancing to overcome COVID-19, calling for continuous and joint effort to move toward the stable conditions.


2. Status of improved quarantine system for entrants from abroad

Measures to enhance management of entrants from abroad under self-quarantine


□ The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters strengthens management of self-quarantine subjects among arrivals from abroad to block the risk of infection possibly imported from abroad including Europe and its spread.

○ First, those subject to self-quarantine out of incoming entrants are mandated to install the 「self-quarantine safety protection app」 to help the authorities check their suspected symptoms including fever, their locations and compliance with living guideline.

○ In addition, the government keeps no leniency for violating self-isolation rules including leave from insolation area without valid reason, and plans to immediately file complaints against those violators.

- Through 「Safety e-Report」 and reporting center of each local government, the authorities plan to allow reporting from citizens in parallel to prevent the subjects from leaving the isolation areas.

□ The Headquarters called for matured citizenship to protect ourselves, saying following the self-quarantine guideline is "our promise" to keep.

Installing new open-type outdoor screening clinic in Incheon Airport


□ The government sets up and operates a open screening clinic (“open walk-thru station") located outdoors in Incheon International Airport from 13:00, March 26 (Thu) to quickly detect COVID-19 infections of asymptomatic foreign entrants to the nation.

○ The open screening clinic is installed in a wide outdoor space without walls with a feature of ventilating all the time through natural wind.

- There is no need for ventilation time thanks to natural wind. As the space is open, the possibility of infection by contacting surfaces is low, which makes this suitable for quick and safe sample collection targeting a large number of people.

- In general screening clinics, a sample can be collected from a single person every 30 minutes due to disinfection and ventilation time, while open type can collect a sample every 4 to 5 minutes.

○ Incheon Airport has a large outdoor space which can be controlled, making this place suitable for installing such an open-type screening clinic.

- The government plans to install open-type screening clinics in Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 in Incheon International Airport, and operate 8 “partitioned sample collection places (booths)” in each clinic, and 16 booths in total.

- 10 public health doctors, 31 voluntary nurses and lab technicians, 35 military personnel, and 8 employees of National Health Insurance Service are working in the Incheon Airport screening clinic.


3. Infection control and support measures for nursing hospitals


□ The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters discussed ways to strengthen infection control for caregivers, known as a blind spot for infection control, in nursing hospitals and to support nursing hospitals to better manage their infection by themselves.

○ Although caregivers in nursing hospitals have high risk of infection due to frequent contacts with patients, there have been challenges in controlling their infection since they are not employed directly by hospitals.

○ The Ministry of Health and Welfare temporarily made it possible to register personal information of caregivers by establishing and operating nursing hospital inspection system* from March 20 (Fri). Through this measure, it became possible to systematically check their daily health conditions and excuse them from work in case any symptom appears.

* Established the system added to the admission/discharge management system of nursing hospital patients operated by the National Health Insurance Service

○ In order to address the lack of masks for caregivers, masks were additionally secured in consultation with the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, and started to be distributed to nursing hospitals through Korean Hospital Association (Mar. 24~ approximately 38,000 masks/day).

○ In addition, the authorities plan to ask the local governments and nursing hospitals to mandatorily conduct COVID-19 test for newly recruited caregivers, and allow them to work after the test results come out.

- In order to reduce the burden of test costs nursing hospitals and caregivers bear, they will be covered by the local governments*.

* Costs for COVID-19 diagnostic tests included in the already provided special subsidy for disaster and safety (KRW 126.2 billion)

□ The Central Disaster Safety Response Headquarters will also bolster support to encourage nursing hospitals to actively prevent and control infection.

○ The confirmed cases, suspected cases, and patients with pneumonia of unknown cause hospitalized in isolation rooms of nursing hospitals were covered by insurance but now, those who need diagnostic tests for COVID-19 due to fever, cough, sore throat, other respiratory symptoms can be also covered by insurance.

- Therefore, medical fees for isolation rooms can be covered regardless of the test results when nursing hospitals isolate patients with fever or respiratory symptoms in advance and conduct the diagnostic tests.

○ With the temporary provision of the "fee for infection prevention and control in nursing hospital", a nursing hospital is provided with the support of KRW 1,150 per day for each inpatient* when the hospital designates an infection control manager (doctor, nurse) and implements enhanced staff and facility management. (Mar. 24~)

* It takes about KRW 69.6 billion per year. An infection control manager is allowed to have multiple positions.


4. Measures to encourage blood donation and enhance safety for blood donation in the military


□ The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters requested all public to participate in blood donation.

○ As of March 24, the blood reserve was 5.3 days' worth, significantly recovered thanks to the public cooperation. However, there is a concern about recurrence of emergency as individual blood donation has recently decreased, and blood usage could become normalized which was on the decline due to COVID-19 spread.

○ The Ministry of Health and Welfare strengthens the monitoring of blood collecting staff (twice a day) so that the public can join blood donation with ease, and creates a safe blood collection environment by having donors and collection staff mandatorily wear masks (1 per person).

* As for group blood donation, it will be carried out in consideration of the currently implemented social distancing.

□ In addition, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters released the measures to enhance the standard operating procedure (SOP) for safely managing infection in case of blood donation in the military camps where group donation is actively made.

○ Accordingly, the Korean Red Cross plans to organize, and gradually operate teams specialized in collecting blood in blood centers from March 28 (Sat).

- Staff members in charge of blood collection in the military camps are monitored every day and excused from that work ①if they or their housemates visit nations or areas affected by community-based COVID-19 spread or special disaster zones in 2 weeks, or ②they contact to a confirmed patient or self-quarantine subject in 2 weeks*.

* In the case of Daegu, Gyeongbuk blood centers, all employees are excluded from blood collection in the military camps.

□ The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters expressed appreciation to military personnel for actively joining blood donation in groups for stable blood supply, adding that it will work harder to create a safe donation environment for the public.


5. Current status regarding supply and demand of masks


※ A separate briefing is planned for this information. In case of any query, contact to the following information:

Affiliation

Division

Contact Information

Ministry of Economy and Finance

Economic Policy Division

044-215-2710, 2712

Price Policy Division

044-215-2770, 2771

Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy

Bio-Convergence Industry Division

044-203-4390, 4391

Public Procurement Service

Procurement Planning Division

042-724-7210, 7265

Ministry of Food and Drug Safety

Customer Risk Prevention Policy Division

043-719-1711, 1722

※ All Koreans faced with issues regarding exorbitant prices of or hoarding masks and hand sanitizers are strongly advised to actively report to the authorities through the reporting center (02-2640-5057/5080/5087), customer call center (1372), and MFDS website (www.mfds.go.kr).

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