The country’s first case was reported on 20 January, compared with Italy’s on January 31, but the disease’s trajectory in the two nations are surprisingly different. South Korea has seen just 158 deaths, whereas Italy now has the most deaths globally with a toll of 11,591.
A mass testing campaign, along with intensive contact tracing, has allowed the infected to quickly isolate, slowing the spread of the disease.
This has made the outbreak far more manageable for hospitals.
Test makers in the region have now started ramping up test-kit production to hundreds of thousands a day.
This is after test makers were granted approval to export to the United States.
NHS Scotland is also set to benefit from South Korean equipment that will give test results in just seven hours.
The system has so far tested close to 400,000 people in a country of 51.5 million.
Ben Griffin from Bradford, who teaches English in the small city of Gyeongju, experienced the efficiency of the Korean testing system.
According to the Telegraph, Mr Griffin was stopped in the carpark for a temperature test after arriving for a routine check-up at a hospital in Busan.
“It was basically just two tests – an extended cotton bud up the nose which makes your eyes water and then a thing down the throat which makes you gag a little bit but they were both done in 45 seconds,” he added
“I got the test done about 4pm on the Friday and I knew by 11am on Saturday that I was negative.”
Mr Griffin and his wife Cat said their phones regularly pinged with geolocated emergency alerts, which lead them to the discovery there was a case in their apartment building.
The alerts were sent automatically by text message to indicate if someone nearby had tested positive.
This gives details of where the patient has been in the last 72 hours, urging people who were in the same location to contact the health authorities.
The alert conceals names but often gives details of age, where the patient lives or their job.
Mr Griffin said “There was a case in our apartment building.
“We weren’t told who it was but there was an emergency alert and our security guards warned over the tannoy not to go outside.”