Many Schools in South Korea Close Again Shortly After Reopening

In a move that will likely be echoed as the world fights the coronavirus, many South Korean schools have once again closed their doors. After briefly reopening, hundreds of schools in the Far Eastern country have closed to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. While much of South Korea has been able to stamp out the virus, there’s a growing spike in Seoul, the capital city.

South Korean School Teacher Showing Children Proper Hand-washing Technique
New Straits Times

In order to address the growing issue, South Korea is making swift moves to address the spread. Since roughly half of the country’s population lives in or around Seoul, it’s of vital importance that any outbreaks in the area are contained quickly. Government-operated theaters and museums, as well as government events, will also be closed through June 14.

Novel Coronavirus Expected to Come in Waves

Many epidemiologists believe that the novel coronavirus is likely to come in waves, not unlike the flu. However, in this early stage, since so few people have ever encountered it, the population does not have herd immunity like it does for the flu. This means that outbreaks are particularly dangerous, as they can quickly and quietly move through a population.

Since there is no vaccine for COVID-19, and since treatments are still in their early stages, some people are at a very high risk of death from the disease. It can be particularly deadly in people over 60, or people with underlying immune issues. As the virus comes in waves, public health responses will likely have to address it in turn.

Rolling Shutdowns Could be the Answer

Experts say it will be months before a proper vaccine is available for the coronavirus. There are, however, public health responses that can help slow its spread. In the US, most parts of the US are slowly easing back on the lockdown restrictions. These were enacted in March to help slow the spread of the virus. On a national scale, the country seems to have mostly flattened the curve.

However, spikes in the virus could lead to renewed calls for “rolling” shutdowns. These could be enacted when medical testing shows a growing spike in the virus, as a preemptive measure. Ideally, these rolling shutdowns could become less lengthy and less frequent as the number of cases continues to fall.

Widespread resistance to the idea of a secondary shutdown, however, could make this scenario unlikely in the US. South Korea hasn’t had protesters against the lockdown orders the way that the US has. This makes their case a bit distinct from our own.