Coronavirus: UK approach ‘very odd’ compared to South Korea, says NI woman Lucy

A Co Down woman who was teaching in South Korea when the Covid-19 outbreak happened has said the difference in approach to the UK is “very odd”.

Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 6:30 am

Lucy Hutchinson, 27, from Banbridge, was teaching in Suwon, around 19 miles away from the capital Seoul, for a year and returned to Northern Ireland on March 1.

South Korea’s first case was reported on January 20 but has seen just 158 deaths, whereas Italy now has the most deaths globally with a toll of 11,591.

Ms Hutchinson said that South Korea didn’t go into lockdown while she was there and still hasn’t but it is testing a lot more people than the UK.

“It’s very odd how they’re still letting people go out and they don’t have as many cases as we do,” she said.

“In Europe we’re on total lockdown and the deaths are still piling up. There are cases in South Korea but there’s hardly anyone dying now.

“Because of the way they handled it when it first came out they stemmed it pretty quickly. They’re testing as many people as they can whereas we’re not.”

A mass testing campaign, along with intensive contact tracing, has allowed the infected to quickly isolate, slowing the spread of the disease.

This has helped make the outbreak more manageable for hospitals.

It’s been reported that test makers in the region have now started ramping up test-kit production to hundreds of thousands a day.

“About three weeks before I left if you went outside you had to wear a mask but there was no lockdown as such,” added Ms Hutchinson.

“People are still going for coffee, going for dinner and so on. It’s definitely not as extreme as what we have here.

“My teaching colleagues there are in work three times a week and they do phone calls. Sometimes they have classes if key workers’ kids are in the school, so they are still teaching.”