COVID-19 Response: Law Revisions in Korea
The world is now facing the threat of the new coronavirus, and countries have adopted more mandatory measures to stop the spread of the virus within their borders and to protect the health of their nationals, including city closures, bans on entry, home quarantine, etc.
Since the outbreak of community spread in the controversial cluster Shincheonji Church of Jesus on February 19, 2020, South Korea has become the second-largest epidemic area driving a dramatic rise in cases that more than 1,000 people diagnosed daily. However, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters (CDSCHQ), assembled by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MoHW) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), eased the epidemic in Korea by early April through measures such as large-scale rapid diagnostic tests for suspected cases, releasing of the geographic footprints of confirmed cases by using big data analysis, real-time tracking of contractors and potentially infected persons, and promulgation of a high-intensity social distance policy. Furthermore, during inter-pandemic periods, the Korea government also took measures including but not limited to: voting by mailing their ballot for diagnosed patients and diversionary access to polling places for the home quarantined, in order to allow the 21st National Assembly election to proceed. These are good examples for other countries to observe and to learn from.
Overall, the smooth collection of patients’ information, the implementation of mandatory quarantine, and the management of immigrants were made possible in Korea by the amendments to relevant legal regulations related to infectious diseases that were newly called “the three COVID laws” — the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act, the Quarantine Act, and the Medical Law — passed by the National Assembly on February 26 and issued by the President on March 4.