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(LEAD) 'Drive-through' testing centers expand across S. Korea

All Headlines 17:53 March 02, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with the latest tally in 2nd para and more info in last para)

SEOUL, March 2 (Yonhap) -- More "drive-through" facilities to test for the novel coronavirus were set up across South Korea on Monday as the country's health authorities strive to provide easier and quicker ways to test the virus and contain its further spread.

The country reported 599 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total number of infections here to 4,335, the largest outbreak outside of China. So far, 26 people, mostly patients who were elderly or had underlying illnesses, have died.

A medical worker collects a sample from a citizen in an automobile at a drive-through clinic in Daejeon, 160 kilometers south of Seoul, on March 1, 2020, to test for the new coronavirus. (Yonhap)

A number of local governments have already introduced drive-through testing facilities where medical staff take samples from drivers and passengers of automobiles who have suspected symptoms of seasonal flu-like illness.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) earlier said it will establish a standard model of such testing facilities and provide it to local governments.

A driver does not have to get out of a car and only needs to open a window to be checked for fever or have samples taken by medical staff in protective suits and goggles, the KCDC said. The entire process takes between five and 10 minutes.

A medical worker collects a sample from a citizen in an automobile at a drive-through clinic in Cheonan, 90 kilometers south of Seoul, on Feb. 29, 2020, to test for the new coronavirus. (Yonhap)

Seoul's first drive-through clinic is expected to open at a parking lot just across from Seoul's Ewha University Hospital in western Seoul later this week.

The city government of Seoul said three other clinics will be opened later this week, staffed by volunteer medical personnel.

Those suspected of having coronavirus symptoms can go to the location with a reservation to reduce the queuing time, the KCDC said.

A remote district of Gurye in the southern part of the country has set up a new roadside facility, in addition to previous two locations.

The southwestern coastal city of Yeosu and the central city of Daejeon also began operating drive-through facilities over the weekend.

The southeastern port city of Ulsan, which has reported a very small number of confirmed cases, said it will also establish such a facility in the near future.

khj@yna.co.kr
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