South Korea apps trace contacts and enforce quarantine


The success of South Korea's efforts to combat the coronavirus without a national lockdown and without suspending civil rights depended in part on preparation put in place after the 2015 MERS epidemic and in part on the country's network of private testing labs, which enabled the country to quickly set up drive-in testing, with the results rapidly texted back to mobile phones. Positive results set in motion aggressive contact-tracing incorporating CCTV footage, mobile phone tracking data, and credit card spending records. The country used loudspeakers and text messages to broadcast information about the places and times where infected people had shopped, eaten, and travelled, encouraging others who frequented those same places to get tested. Incoming travellers are required to install an app on their cellphone through which they report their state of health day to day. A second app tracks those who are ordered to quarantine to make sure they don't leave their space of confinement.


Writer: Richard Lloyd Parry
Publication: The Times