a coronavirus patient being transported to a hospital
Although South Korea is one of the world's worst-affected COVID-19 countries, it still boasts one of the lowest mortality rates.
So why is the death rate so low?
Julie Sohn explains.
Among countries that have reported over 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19, Italy has the highest death rate at 6.6 percent followed by China and Iran both at 3.9 percent.
The figure is above the latest global death rate announced by the World Health Organization at 3.4 percent.
South Korea, which has the fourth largest outbreak of the novel coronavirus, maintains a fairly low mortality rate of 0.8 percent.
So what is behind the low fatality rate?
For starters, the average age of the patients reported are comparably younger than other countries that have relatively strong resistance to the virus.
Nearly half of the cases are those under 40 years old.
In addition, most of the infections are in women.
Global figures show the virus is mostly deadly among the elderly and men in particular.
Another key reason, experts point out, is the early detection that enables early treatment.
Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, explains.
[Clip: Eric Feigl-Ding: 00:23]
"Korea might have a lower mortality because it caught the virus faster than the U.S. Korea has much better health care than the U.S. I'm really worried about the United States because I think the U.S. will have a worse outbreak than other countries because we do not have universal health care. That will show up in the mortality and severity as well."
South Korea has conducted more diagnostic tests faster than any other country -- around 10,000 per day.
Other factors include a robust national health service and prior experience of virus outbreaks.
Julie Sohn, eFM News.■
<Photo: Yonhap News>
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