Amidst rising pressure on the healthcare professionals for testing coronavirus infections, the health authorities in South Korea have deployed a novel way of testing to ensure quicker and risk-free test- 'Drive Thru'.
Inspired by the delivery method used by a Global fast-food chain, South Korea has set up the drive-thru clinic in Goyang, located around 10 miles northwest from national capital Seoul, a temporary testing facility that was opened in a parking lot to deal with residents requesting assessments for the deadly virus.
With 526 new confirmed cases of coronavirus being reported on Wednesday morning, the total toll has reached 5,328 and 32 deaths. According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of the cases are from Daegu, the fourth-largest city of the country where the spread is credited to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus.
How does the drive-thru testing work?
The new testing centre set last month is aimed to provide easy and quick testing for the citizens along with keeping the medical staff safe from infections. Sitting inside the car, one drives to the drive-thru centre where a health professional covered in safe clothing will lean through the window to check the person.
The visitor is checked for fever, breathing difficulties. For deeper monitoring of the visitor to the drive-thru clinic, a secretion sample from the nose and throat is collected through the window. The testing time at this novel centre takes less than 10 minutes before the visitor is sent off.
The Mayor of Goyang, Lee Jae-joon, told CNN that the system provided a safer and faster method to test for the virus as compared to a hospital or health clinic. "There's less face-to-face contact. If you operate a testing site indoors, there is concern that suspected patients can infect each other in the waiting room."
The results of the test are sent to the patients within three days through an SMS. On the first day of its opening, the centre tested 384 people.
The curious case of 'Patient 31' in South Korea
As South Korea struggles to contain the spread of fatal coronavirus, authorities lay blame on 'Patient 31' for the spiking of cases in the country. Called 'Patient 31,' a member of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a secretive sect based in Daegu city, which accounted for 64 percent of the country's coronavirus infections in the country.
"The situation here was not really serious until mid-February. It began to get very serious starting with patient 31. Before patient 31, our strategies to contain the virus were working. But after countless people were infected by patient 31, it became very difficult to control," Hwang Seung-sik, a Spatio-temporal epidemiologist at Seoul National University, told AlJazeera.
'Patient 31' was identified as a 61-year-old woman who was unaware of her infection, went on to attend the Sunday service at the church twice besides engaging with the public in day to day activities.