Cheer up, Daegu!The number of people confirmed infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus has exceeded 1,000. An infected man in his 70s died Thursday after being denied admission to a hospital due to a critical lack of beds in Daegu city, where the infections are concentrated. Over 400 people are in self-quarantine because the total of 1,013 hospital beds in the city cannot meet the demand. Such a deplorable situation is primarily due to the Moon Jae-in administration’s weak reaction to the deadly outbreak despite medical experts’ repeated warnings about the possibility of a rapid spread of the virus in local communities.
On Wednesday, Daegu Mayor Kwon Young-jin asked for help from Gyeonggi to provide hospital beds for its patients. Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung refused, citing a lack of medical staff and facilities in his province. In a press briefing Thursday, Daegu Mayor Kwon repeated his plea for help from other local governments. Some medical staff in Daegu are having a tough battle with the virus, protected by face masks alone. As the war goes on, doctors and nurses are increasingly getting exhausted.
In such a grim situation, Dr. Lee Seong-koo, president of the Daegu Medical Association, appealed to his fellow doctors to “give a helping hand to the desperate fight against the virus to save the lives of Daegu citizens with blood, sweat and tears without any quid pro quo.” As of Thursday, 490 doctors joined a crusade against the deadly virus. A doctor specializing in diagnostic radiology from Gangnam District, Seoul, and an internist who runs his own clinic in nearby North Gyeongsang, rushed to Daegu to treat patients despite the risks involved.
Keimyung University Dongsan Medical Center in Daegu decided to offer rooms to infected people in need of urgent treatment by transferring patients with common diseases to other hospitals. Patients heartily gave their rooms to people infected with Covid-19. Some landlords in Daegu — including at the famous Seomun Market in the center of the city — decided to cut rents or waive them from merchants in the noble spirit of compassion and self-sacrifice in an uphill battle against the virus.
But the ruling Democratic Party rubbed salt into the wounds of Daegu citizens when its spokesperson suggested that Daegu may have to be “contained.” Thankfully, better behaved Koreans are rolling up their sleeves to help their fellow citizens in Daegu. A primary school student donated his monthly allowance to the city while many companies, large and small, are voluntarily pitching in, not to mention a countless number of mom-and-pop stores across the country that sent face masks as well as cleansing and sanitation products.
Although the government’s response to the crisis was poor, the public — and the civilian sector in particular — are trying hard to overcome it. Covid-19 spreads and can be lethal. But we can defeat it with the united power of the people and their bottomless generosity. Cheer up, Daegu and North Gyeongsang!
JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 28, Page 30