SEOUL, May 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Thursday that it plans to build up its response capabilities against infectious diseases and create a new growth engine by capitalizing on know-how and measures taken to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.
At a emergency economic policy meeting chaired by Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki, participants said state support will be concentrated on quarantine and prevention, diagnosis and screening, and the development of treatment drugs.
At present, there is no cure or vaccine for COVID-19, which was first reported in China in late 2019. Many experts have said a drug may be created toward the end of the second half of 2020, with a vaccine not forthcoming till next year.
South Korea has reported 10,991 cases of the virus, with the death toll standing at 260. Both figures are much lower than many countries in Europe and North America, mainly due to the country's extensive testing and strict social distancing.
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, which regulates drugs and test kits, said any development will be designed to not only deal with the present strain of coronavirus but also mutations, along with new illnesses that may occur.
Earlier, the country said it will spend 1.2 trillion won (US$980 million) on research and development by 2025.
South Korea also plans to promote the so-called K-quarantine model, based on swift, aggressive testing, detailed contact tracing, quarantine and treatment, as the new international standard that can be used by other countries in dealing with epidemics.
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