Rapid review of early status of COVID-19 infection in South Korea

Miyoung Choi, Ho Gyun Shin, Yan Jin, Joo Youn Kim, Kwang Hyub Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since the confirmation of the first coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patient on January 20 2020, COVID-19 infection rate ramped up between February and March in South Korea. This study aimed to provide information on the characteristics of the first two months of COVID-19 prevalence in South Korea and attempted to comprehend preliminary evidence from various sources. We used public data available from the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention and situation reports from the World Health Organization from February to March 2020. For additional information, health utilization data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development was used for subgroup analysis. A proportion of meta-analysis was performed. We searched literatures from PubMed, KoreaMed, and CNKI (China National Knowledge Infrastructure) for identifying epidemiological characteristics of COVID-19 and treatment strategies. We monitored domestic and global disease control institutions' recommendations. The search results and reports were updated every two weeks. In South Korea, the ratio of confirmed cases is divided into two groups; before and after the occurrence of a large cluster infection explosion on February 17 2020 from a religious group called the Shincheonji Church. After the global pandemic announcement by World Health Organization on March 11 2020, the fatality rate of COVID-19 seems to be related to the number of beds and general hospitals. From the literature review, we identified a strong reproduction rate, asymptomatic period or infection, rate of exacerbation, and current treatments. The COVID-19 pandemic in South Korea was inevitable, but the early explosion of infection showed the decline curve afforded by the rigorous tracing, widespread testing, and well-organized health care system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504-511
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Korean Medical Association
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Aug

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Korean Medical Association. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


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