Apocalypse Interrupted

By Charlie Bilello

18 Mar 2020

I’m interrupting your regularly scheduled programming of the coming apocalypse to bring you some encouraging news…

The world is not coming to an end – not by a long shot. We are figuring this thing out, and faster than anyone could have ever predicted.

In South Korea, they have been testing 20,000 people per day for coronavirus, using drive-through sites and a wide network of 24-hour labs that produce highly accurate and speedy results.

Drive-through test centre in Seoul
Drive-through test center in Seoul, one of dozens across the country.

If negative, you get a text. If positive, you get a call. The whole process now takes 5-6 hours. South Korea was able to setup this system in 17 days, a tremendous feat of human grit and ingenuity.

The benefits of testing on a massive scale are many…

  1. You can detect the virus earlier, isolate infections, and significantly decrease the rate at which it spreads.
  2. You can respond to local outbreaks with actual data, setting up makeshift testing centers in areas where they are needed most.
  3. You will find more positive cases of people with mild symptoms (a feature of COVID-19), giving us better information on the true fatality rate (much lower in South Korea and Germany where they have done more testing than in other areas). This should in time quell public hysteria as they learn that the virus is not nearly as deadly as initially reported.

In addition to widespread testing, South Korea learned quickly that hospital beds need to be reserved for the critical patients that need them the most. This saves lives and prevents overcrowding. Those with mild symptoms (the vast majority of cases) should not be using the hospital as their primary care center.

“We can’t quarantine and treat all patients [in the hospital]. Those who have mild symptoms should stay home and get treated [in residential centers]” – Dr Kim Yeon-Jae, an infectious disease specialist from the Korea National Medical Centre

The results speak for themselves. With no lockdowns, roadblocks, or restrictions of movement employed, South Korea has managed to slow the growth rate of COVID-19 to the point where active cases are already starting to level off.


And the most encouraging sign: there’s some light at the end of the tunnel…

“…slowly, day by day, more people are creeping back onto the streets of the capital city, Seoul. Restaurants, buses and subways are beginning to get busy again.

Hopefully that paragraph will soon apply to the world.

There are reasons to be optimistic that it will.

You can be sure that other countries are observing what works and will try to replicate the South Korean model where they can.

In Germany, they have been implementing similar testing/treatment measures and seeing much better outcomes thus far.

And here in the U.S., drive-though testing is on its way…


The doomsayers will say that it won’t work, that it’s “too late.”

Nonsense. We will beat this thing if we remain calm, learn from each other, and stay focused on effective solutions.

Life will go on and we’ll look back at these times and marvel at how quickly we were able to come together as a human race to defeat a common enemy.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming of the coming apocalypse…

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