The Korea Herald


World Bank names S. Korea ‘COVID-19 safe spot’

Multilateral agency cites Seoul’s successful COVID-19 response

By Bae Hyunjung

Published : June 9, 2020 - 17:19

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The World Bank has added South Korea to the list of countries that are providing efficient emergency medical services to its employees, Seoul’s Finance Ministry said Tuesday.

The multilateral agency’s decision is seen as its recognition of Korea’s successful handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The World Bank has decided to name Korea as a medical evacuation destination to take care of the emergent medical needs of its employees located in the East Asia and Pacific region,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The decision was based on the World Bank’s positive appraisal of Korea’s advanced medical standards and its successful quarantine experiences.”

The World Bank requires its employees with acute conditions or injuries to receive medical care in a neighboring nation, in case the necessary procedures are unavailable locally. Currently, Thailand and Singapore have been designated in the East Asia and Pacific region, covering 29 of its member states.

The traveling cost, medical expenses and additional costs such as the living expenses of an accompanying family member are covered by the World Bank headquarters.

“The World Bank was greatly impressed by the measures taken by the Korean government and the citizens to respond to COVID-19 and believes that there is much to learn from Korea’s experience,” the ministry quoted Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank’s vice president for the East Asia and Pacific Region, and Anette Dixon, vice president for human development.

In addition to the medical function designation, the World Bank has also suggested to carry out a case study on Korea’s COVID-19 response and to allocate a public health consultant at its local office in Songdo. The actions came as part of the international organization’s move to form a comprehensive partnership with Asia’s fourth-largest economy in sectors of public health and medical care, ministry officials said.

Over the past months, while the new coronavirus has spread across borders, the Korean government has issued three sets of comprehensive reports in English to share its experience of dealing with the unprecedented disease.

The first one, titled “Tackling COVID-19” and issued in March, dealt with the quarantine measures and economic actions in general. The next, “Flattening the curve on COVID-19,” dug specifically into the country’s efficient use of ICT in fighting the disease.

The latest one, issued in early May, elaborated on how the country displayed resilience to the epidemic crisis by presenting cases such as its parliamentary election management in April, the supply control system for public face masks, and the ongoing e-education platforms.

“Since the (outbreak of) COVID-19, the World Bank has been seeking ways to diversify its pool of medical evacuation destinations,” the ministry said.

Taking into account the likeliness that the World Bank may add Korea to its list of medical evacuation centers, the government has made active responses to the agency’s inquiries and requests, including the issuance of reports.

By Bae Hyun-jung (