REPORT: Department of Ophthalmology, Severance Hospital, South Korea
Report from Prof Christopher Seungkyu Lee & Prof Sungchul Lee regarding the current Covid-19 situation in South Korea
COVID-19 has affected our clinics to some degree. Every patient who enters our hospital is screened at the gate for symptoms and signs, and body temperature checked. Everyone including doctors, patients and hospital staff must wear masks at all times. We have mounted a protective transparent plastic shield on the slit-lamp that can act as a barrier between patients and doctors while talking to each other.
Our government temporarily allowed ‘telemedicine’, so patients who would like to get a ‘routine’ prescription can have doctors call them upon appointment, a prescription is then faxed to the patient. Patients from areas with a high COVID-19 infection rate were examined in designated clinic rooms, where doctors wore gloves and extra PPE. This is not done anymore as the overall number of newly infected patients has decreased in Korea.
We had a particularly high rate in a specific region of our country due to some cult members. We were advised by our hospital not to perform elective surgeries, including patient injections, especially to those from areas of high infection rates. This restriction was not imposed on a government level. In reality, surgeries and injections were pretty much performed as usual if patients requested them. If we encounter a patient with suspected COVID-19, the patient is referred to a screening clinic, where a COVID-19 test is carried out.
As for daily activities, there are not many restrictions to markets, restaurants, etc, at the moment, but our government still advises people not to travel outside their region. However, there is a strict 2-week self-quarantine imposed on people who come from any foreign country, using a cell phone application that can monitor their location. At the moment, new COVID-19 cases occur predominantly among people traveling from foreign countries.