PARIS (AP) — South Korea’s ambassador to France said his country managed to enforce a quick response to the coronavirus based on its previous experiences of major epidemics, at a French parliament hearing on Wednesday.
Speaking before a Senate’s commission of inquiry into how authorities handled the COVID-19 crisis, Choi Jong-moon detailed South Korea’s effective actions to fight the spread of the virus, including quickly ratcheting up testing.
“From the start of the crisis and even before the first case was confirmed, the government and local biotechnological companies started working together on developing test kits,” Choi said. “A month later, we were able to test up to 40-thousand people per day.”
South Korea’s authorities were able to deploy hundreds of centers to test people with symptoms and to quickly develop smartphone apps tracking the virus, he added.
Choi said authorities relied on a key 2015 law which allowed the KCDC agency, South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to boost staffing and funding and become more efficient.
French lawmakers are seeking to learn from the South Korean experience, as President Emmanuel Macron’s government has been under criticism over the lack of masks, test capacity and other medical equipment for months after the epidemic broke out in the country.
South Korea has reported at least 21,500 people infected with the virus and 344 deaths in a country with over 50 million people. France, which has about 67 million inhabitants, has reported over 335,500 cases and 30,764 deaths in hospitals and nursing homes.
Choi also praised cooperation between the central government and local authorities. In France, inconsistent and uncoordinated actions from the state and regional authorities have been under criticism.
In addition to two French parliament’s inquiry commissions, a special French court has ordered an investigation of three current or former government minister over their handling of the coronavirus crisis.
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