I am Hee-Kang Kim from Korea University. Here is a short piece of information on how the government of South Korea is coping with the Corona virus and its impact on care. So far, Korea has rather successfully dealt with the Corona virus. Childcare facilities and schools are now suspended, but in the rest of social lives, people are spending their normal daily lives without the need for city closures or travel bans.
1. Currently, 80 percent of Corona confirmed cases have been caused by group infection in Korea. One of major group infection cases is occurring at nursing homes (nursing hospitals). Care receivers and caregivers are both the source of infection for each other and at the same time, the most vulnerable infection targets. Therefore, the government is strengthening special prevention management for nursing hospitals and care facilities across the country. In particular, several local governments have conducted full Corona virus infection tests on ALL persons (doctors, nurses, care receivers, caregivers, and other employees) involved in ALL nursing hospitals and care facilities.
2. Korea suffers from a shortage of masks, and the state regulates the supply and demand of masks (all Koreans can purchase two public masks a week.) The Seoul city government is distributing free masks to care workers (both institutional and home-based care workers). So far, the Seoul city government has been very active in improving the treatment and support of care workers in general. For example, in Korea, children and the elderly (12 or younger, 65 or older) are given free flu vaccines. In addition, the Seoul city government has been giving free flu vaccines to care workers since two years ago.
3. Childcare facilities and schools are closed. However, in case the child cannot be cared for at home, childcare facilities and schools are currently implementing the ‘emergency care’ system: from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., lunch and snacks are served to the children on government support. My child, who is in the second grade in the elementary school, is currently using ’emergency care.’
Because of the difficulty of using childcare facilities, if a worker uses family care leave, the original unpaid family care leave can be used as paid at present on government aid.
4. In addition, the national government and some local governments plan to provide emergency living funds (or disaster basic income) or are currently under discussion.
The above are short facets of Korea’s handling of the situation. More effort will be needed in the future. Also, since this is not a matter limited to a country, international cooperation and networks seem to be more needed.