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COVID-19 care costs W50m, 457 personnel per patient: official

Medical workers at a screening clinic of Chonnam National University Hospital in Gwangju, Aug. 21, 2020. (Yonhap)
Medical workers at a screening clinic of Chonnam National University Hospital in Gwangju, Aug. 21, 2020. (Yonhap)

The amount of money spent on a single coronavirus patient -- from the pre-diagnosis stage through recovery -- is close to 48 million won ($40,100), the southwestern city of Gwangju revealed.

Detecting and responding to the single confirmed case requires a total of 457 public officials mobilized, the city said, based on its analysis of 369 local infection cases in the city.

The direct costs of identifying and treating a COVID-19 patient stood at 47.81 million won. About 80 percent of that spending goes to testing the patient’s contacts, an average of 262 people, and supporting 25 of them, on average, who test negative but have to self-quarantine for two weeks just in case.

The rest of the expense covers the patient’s actual treatment.

Forty-eight personnel are needed in the pre-treatment stage, when health authorities carry out contact tracing and 40 fresh workers are additionally called once the patient is admitted. More are mobilized for handling their contacts from testing to checking on their adherence to quarantine rules.

The city’s finding did not include indirect costs or extra workforce to run hospitals or disinfect suspected areas.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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