19 Mar 2020

AI Weekly #4: South Korea winning the fight against coronavirus with AI

South Korea is one of the hardest hit countries in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. With over 8,500 cases and 92 deaths, the country still managed to decrease the fatality rate and stem the tide of those infected. South Korea is a global technology hub, and thanks to this, medical facilities were up to speed with diagnosis and treatment. One major component in this success was the use of Artificial Intelligence.

Big data analysis as a weapon against the pandemic

In order to combat new cases of coronavirus, South Korea turned to AI to deal with the pandemic. With the use of warning systems, methods of observation and a government-run database of citizens and foreign nationals, early detection of cases was made possible.

Using the gathered information, if a person was tested positive for being infected with COVID-19, their personal info, along with their past travel activities are sent to the people in the area of the infected person via phone as an alert. Additionally, the health services can obtain the infected individual’s contacts and request them to get tested for the virus.

Another important solution was the introduction of “drive thru” testing – the person drives inside a testing lab, and after collecting samples while sitting in the vehicle, the results are announced in a matter of minutes, after, if the test results are positive, the person is isolated and taken for treatment. Lastly, AI-based regulations that ensure the distribution of home medical supplies (masks, anti-bacterial soap). These precautions have caused the prices to not hike, despite this occurring in many affected places worldwide.

Why this matters

The availability of data regarding citizens and foreign nationals within South Korea’s borders has enabled warning systems to be implemented with using AI big-data analysis. This procedure of warning citizens in the area of infected individuals, as well as the drive-thru testing, led to cases being detected, diagnosed and treated at a much faster pace. In result, the mortality rate was at around just 1%, in contrast with the global average of 3%.

Adding to that the controlled, AI-powered supply regulation, the country did not experience a shortage of materials. As of right now, South Korea is experiencing a decline of cases, as more and more people are being cured due to early detection. If other countries utilized these measures, the chance of success in combating the spread of the coronavirus would rise significantly.

Read more about COVID-19 here.

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