South Korean cities launch drive-thru clinics to test patients
SEOUL: At a new drive-thru coronavirus clinic in South Korea, a driver is checked for any fever or breathing difficulties by medical staff in protective clothing and goggles who lean in through the car window.
He drives off after the brief test shows he is clear.
Others queueing in their vehicles in the city of Goyang were instructed to stop briefly to submit a sample of secretions for closer examination, with the entire procedure taking less than 10 minutes.
"I initially went to a community health centre and had to wait more than one hour, so this is easier and faster," a driver told local broadcaster YTN.
None of the drivers nor medical workers gave their names, the stigma of even being tested making people cautious.
A growing number of local governments in South Korea are launching the roadside testing facilities this week, as demand soars for checks and increasing waiting times raise the risk of infection.
Cities, including Incheon and Sejong, have launched their own drive-thru testing clinics, while others plan to introduce the facility soon.
South Korea's president declared war on the outbreak yesterday, ordering additional hospital beds and more face masks to be made available as the number of cases rose by 974 in the worst epidemic of any nation outside China.
President Moon Jae-in apologised for shortages of face masks and promised support for virus-hit small businesses in Asia's fourth-biggest economy, which has now reported 5,186 cases and 34 deaths.
"The entire country has entered war against the infectious disease as the crisis in Daegu and Gyeongbuk province has reached the highest point," he told a cabinet meeting, referring to the hardest-hit parts of the country.
"I am very sorry to the people that we are not able to supply masks swiftly and sufficiently, and have caused inconvenience."
Daegu's mayor told reporters he had asked the president for 3,000 more hospital rooms to cope with the rising number of patients.
President Moon ordered masks to be stockpiled as a strategic item so suppliers can increase output without fear of producing surplus. - REUTERS