The continued cluster infections in the Seoul metro region without stronger social distancing would lead to 800 daily new cases one month later, an expert warned.
Ki Mo-ran, a professor of preventive medicine at the National Cancer Center, said this and other remarks when she made a presentation on “Corona-19 Second Pandemic Prediction Model and Response Strategy” at a medical forum at Myongji Hospital in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, Friday.
|Ki Mo-ran, a professor of preventive medicine at the National Cancer Center, speaks on “Corona-19 Second Pandemic Prediction Model and Response Strategy” at a medical forum at Myongji Hospital in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, on Friday.|
The forum was aired live on K-Healthlog, a YouTube channel operated by The Korean Doctors’ Weekly.
According to Ki, the local reproductive number (R) of Covid-19 has recently increased. R refers to the number of people one infected person can transmit the virus.
The R-value remained low at 0.45 between March 14 and April 29 but went up to an average of 1.79 between April 30 and June 11. The latest number indicates that one Covid-19 patient can infect 1.79 persons. If R remains below 1, confirmed cases will go down, and rises above 1, the number will go up.
Ki predicted the number of Covid-19 cases according to disease control measures.
If R stays at the current level of 1.79, the number of daily new cases will reach 254 and the total cases, 13,403, on June 25, she predicted. One month later, daily cases will spike to 826, and the total will hit 20,486 on July 9, she warned.
In contrast, if R slides 25 percent down to 1.32, there will be 146 daily new cases with the total cases standing at 12,820 two weeks later. On July 9, daily new cases will be 254, and the total cases will record 15,608, Ki’s model showed.
“To reduce daily new cases to a single digit, we have to lower the current R-value by 50 percent. We need a tough social distancing to minimize contact between people,” Ki said.
That way, the number of daily new cases will fall to four, one month later, she added, emphasizing that the current situation was “very dangerous.”
Ki went on to say that the nation should brace for a long-term fight against Covid-19 by evaluating measures so far, executing alternatives, and fine-tuning them. “We need a team that researches infectious diseases and makes mathematical models. There is no such public institution that does this work,” she said.
She warned that a second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak could generate millions of confirmed patients. In such a scenario, Covid-19 testing by doctors only will be insufficient to handle the surging demand, so the authorities should expand the workforce for massive testing and consider self-testing, too, she said.
For a long-term battle, the authorities should also start discussing how to nurture more doctors and revise the medical delivery system, Ki said.
As too many clinic doctors are competing in metropolitan cities, the government should discuss restricting the number of clinic physicians per 100,000 people, she claimed.
Ki also proposed reducing the working period of public health doctors from three years and allowing women to work in the public health sector.
“The state has to spend money to nurture doctors,” she said.
She also said the nation needs to enhance the role of primary care physicians, and doctors must accept the reality that non-contact medical services will be boosted.
“We need to revise the medical delivery system by allowing doctors to visit patients’ homes to provide medical care and examination, approving medicine deliveries and nursing visits,” Ki said.
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