By Paula Hancocks and Yoonjung Seo, CNN
Updated 10:05 PM ET, Mon March 9, 2020
Seoul, South Korea (CNN)South Korea’s top public health official hopes that the country has already gone through the worst of the novel coronavirus outbreak that has infected thousands inside the country.
“We are hoping that we have passed the peak, taking the numbers into consideration, and cautiously expecting we have passed the peak,” South Korean Health Minister Park Neunghoo said in an exclusive interview with CNN.
More than 7,300 coronavirus infections have been confirmed throughout South Korea, killing more than 50. It is one of the largest outbreaks outside mainland China, where the deadly virus was first identified. However, the number of new daily infections in South Korea has declined in recent days.
Park said that while he believes the aggregate number of infections is high, he is confident in the job South Korea did to combat the virus’ spread and would advise other governments who are dealing with outbreaks to focus efforts on early testing and global cooperation.
The South Korean government has been among the most ambitious when it comes to providing the public with free and easy testing options. It has the ability run about 15,000 diagnostic test per day and has conducted 196,000 tests to date nationwide, free of charge. Authorities in the city of Goyang even set up drive-thru testing booths.
As I mentioned last Friday, the recent stats out of Wuhan are also better than might be expected. The lesson of this news is not that we don’t have a huge problem, it’s that there appear to be solutions.