f all the countries so far ravaged by the coronavirus, one has stood out – in a good way. The early award for all-round most effective response has gone to one of the first countries to report the epidemic after China: South Korea. Compared with Spain, Italy and the UK, where those who have died from Covid-19 are now counted in thousands, the number in South Korea is currently nudging 220. Confirmed cases stand at fewer than 11,000.
In all the graphs showing the death toll as a proportion of the population as the disease spreads, South Korea is represented by an enviably flattish line all by itself towards the base of the chart. At a comparable stage of the pandemic, most European countries, the UK and the US are all bunched together rising in a similarly steep curve.
It cannot be excluded, of course, that South Korea will face a second wave of infection. Singapore, which was also affected early and also reported a relatively low rate of both confirmed cases and deaths, appears to be girding for just such an eventuality. But Singapore, by virtue of its small area and population (5.6 million), as well as its strict regulations on personal freedoms even in normal times, has to be seen in many respects as an exception.
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