South Korea’s first walk-thru coronavirus testing center opens in Seoul on March 5, alongside a new drive-thru center. It will join three drive-thru testing centers already operating in Seoul.
This new method to battle the coronavirus outbreak allows people to get tested for the virus without ever leaving their vehicle or entering the hospital, which eliminates the need to screen people entering hospitals and reduces the risk of cross-contamination.
The conventional process for testing patients for coronavirus in hospitals involves not just screening the patient but also disinfecting the examination room — a process which can take up to 30 minutes. With the drive-thru method, it takes less than 10 minutes, which includes filling out medical questionnaires, taking temperature measurements, sample collection, and payment. The drive-thru centers prevent patients from exposure in the clinic or hospital, where they may come into contact with the disease while being checked for the virus.
“It’s good knowing that I can make a quick stop if I started having symptoms,” Goyang native Lee Ki-jung, 31, said. “Plus, it would lessen my chance of running into a virus patient and becoming infected or having to be isolated.”
Locations of drive-thru coronavirus testing centers in Korea
Seoul’s newest testing center will be located across the street from Ehwa Womans University Seoul Hospital, near Balsan Station, Line 5. The address is Gangseo-gu Magok-dong 802-3, and it will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It will be staffed by two doctors, two nurses, two administrators, and six information workers.
Coronavirus drive-thru screening centers are also already installed in Sejong City at Sejong Public Health Center and Chungnam National University Hospital. The screening clinic also provides patients suspected of having coronavirus to receive pre-care before visiting the hospital for formal medical treatment.
A drive-thru testing center was also established in front of the Deokyang District Office in the city of Goyang. Operating from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the drive-thru center has more than 100 people coming in for a screening every day. The city believes the Goyang Assurance Car Screening Clinic is crucial in preventing infections along with protecting medical staff and minimizing the wait time. The city has also decided to install another drive-thru center in the West Samneung Youth Campground space for those who have been self-quarantined in the area.
In response to the need for rapid and safe diagnosis and testing in the event of a large suspected outbreak, the city has raised the COVID-19 Crisis Response Alert to “severe”.
Both the medical staff and clients have indicated positive reviews regarding this drive-thru method of carrying out the application, check-in, and inspection process with minimal mutual environmental exposure.
Gyeonggi Province communications official Park Hyun-su said the service will soon be introduced in other regions, with the next expected to be installed in Bucheon. The city of Daegu has also established drive-thru clinics. One of the hardest-hit cities in Korea, these drive-thrus are an important part of reducing the burden on Daegu’s medical system.