Iowa Native on COVID-19 in S. Korea


SEOUL, South Korea — For Iowa native Derek Fichtner, the effort to combat COVID-19 in the United States has been interesting. Fichtner lives in South Korea where he teaches at Hansung University. He is intrigued at the differences in how the two nations have approached handling the crisis.

South Korea has kept the virus somewhat in check with 158 deaths reported, compared to 2600 in the USA. The. government requires people to wear masks in public.

“They were hit with SARS ( Severe Acute Respritory Syndrome) years ago so they had things in place to handle this kind of situation already,” said Fichtner. “I don’t know how much that mentioned back home but they had equipment and things ready to go just in case his happened again.”

Fichtner has lived here for around 18 years. He’s been interested in clean-air issues due to the polluted skies over Korea.

“I run clean air ideas in Korea, which is a Facebook group with about 4 thousand members in it,” said Fichtner. “I’m into masks and studying this in relation to air quality because we have terrible pollution issues here in Korea, I have been wearing masks for the last few years just because of that.”

Fichtner said the government in South Korea keeps the disease in check, by tracking people who have the virus.

“There’s fast 4G and 5G Internet everywhere here, so they can track people and see where they been what they’ve done,” said Fichtner. If you get the virus they can find out just where are you are, where you’ve gone, and the do post that.”

Fichtner said the big brother aspect of Korea knowing where you’ve been might not go over well in America. Still he wishes that Americans would wear masks, he believes it would cut down the virus spread by coughing.


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