Minnesotan living in South Korea describes coronavirus measures there

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Nicole Barta is a Minnesotan who has been in South Korea for more than two years teaching English.

She feels the country is starting to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic thanks to quick and easy testing.

"It’s very easy to get a test in Korea, you can just drive up and get a test, they have these telephone booth tests now where you just walk in and seven minutes later you get your results," Barta said.

She added that testing has led to intense tracking.

"Whenever there’s a case found, especially in your area, you get an alert on your phone, it tells you where the person has been, where they live, where they were diagnosed, and everything like that minute-by-minute, where they’ve been, what they’ve done," Barta said.

While some people have privacy concerns regarding the use of technology like that, Barta said she thinks the situation justifies it.

"For me, personally, it’s not an invasion of privacy because it’s such a serious situation," she said.

Her students will head back to class next week after being out for roughly six weeks, and when they sit back down in their desks, they’ll see changes.

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"They are sitting next to each other because we don’t have the space available to make sure they are 6 feet apart, but they don’t face each other and when they eat they don’t face each other, and they are also mandated to wear masks the entire day," said Barta.

"We also disinfect the classrooms two to three times a day and we also test for temperatures two times a day for all staff and students," she added.

Barta said face masks are a big part of Asian culture, people wear them to protect themselves and others, and also because of air quality. But, the government is rationing them due to shortages.

"If your birthday ends in a certain number, you can go in and get masks on Monday, for example, and you get two masks a week," she said.

Barta said some stores are requiring people to wear masks, but other than schools, churches and karaoke rooms, businesses didn’t really shut down, which is why she feels the country hasn’t seen as big of an economic hit.