Data collection, surveillance help South Korea keep COVID cases low

ABC News’ Joohee Cho reports on South Korea’s use of stringent methods to tame the virus, but a recent rise in cases will put the effectiveness of those methods to the test.
4:00 | 12/10/20

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Transcript for Data collection, surveillance help South Korea keep COVID cases low
Kobe cases in South Korea have hit a nine month high as result officials are sounding alarms imposing new restrictions including the closure of gyms in karaoke bars. They had about 4000 cases last week's 4000 compare that hit the one point three million during the same time here in the US but how. Two words have helped them keep cases so low contact tracing but it's not like what we have here at home as Judy Cho reports in from Seoul. Caulk gun is it contact tracer income non Seoul South Korea this is the pandemic. He's taken on a rule that looks more like detective Columbus. Blue distinction. This could ferociously collecting in looking at data this morning those who may have been exposed to the virus. Kirk still most doctors and civil service have been working nonstop. The number of proving nineteen patients who has been on the rise. Every concerned patient in South Korea has a legal responsibility. To tell people like gun where they've been conveyed meant. Andrew went up to 48 hours before their first symptoms it's not the penalty could be seen here. I'm him down get people to be find up to 181000 US dollars or be sent to prison for up to two years under the infectious diseases control and prevention act on its feet. Is truth shall. This officer cross check surveillance camera footage his job not only to verified but to also pinpointed people wearing close physical contact. With the infected patient. And then removed from here it looks like real detective for coups and a team of two officers and dispatched to the site to check in building cctv footage we collect credit card creditors in an interview witnesses. The challenge finding a way to contact police potential good it nineteen patients and urged them to get free testing. All in an effort to curb the spread South Korea has taken a rather orwellian approach in tracking. Here everywhere you go indoors buildings shops rest. Everyone have to go through this process. And this is and temperature taking robot. Takes me less than a second to get your temperature checks and then you have these Q are codes on Campbell while signs. Yeah. And this is a way for the authorities to track down where you have been at what timing sad. Unlike in western countries people are more open to being tracked and traced in South Korea and. What did you our home and I feel safer it's right now overall betterment. I'm society and just like the state justice defense and McCain on his opponent to be over and had done went down I would rather do that than just deal with the reverend we have typical cream. Because. We are is a member of society. And the society has to do. Doing something for the collective good it's a mentality that's also prominent in places like Hong Kong Taiwan Singapore and Malaysia. There's that kind of group pressure. But I should not. Harm my neighbor because it is an infection is the easiest so people are worried. But contact tracing can only be so effective it works when Casey close are relatively low. The US saw more than one million new cases last week making meaningful contact tracing nearly impossible. And South Korea's success in containing the buyers with their stringent precautions. Is about to be put to the test. They've broken a record this past week with nearly 4000 new cases the most since the outbreak began. While experts agree that contact tracing is only one part of the solution they also continue to echo that until the vaccine is accessible to everyone. Masks and social distancing will be key in getting us back to normal more quickly. Judy Cho ABC news Seoul South Korea.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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