SEOUL, March 24 (Korea Bizwire) — With the novel coronavirus spreading rapidly across the globe, the medical community in South Korea has been hit hard by the outbreak as well – in a surprising way.
Rather than being overcome with patients, some clinics are actually facing a dearth of patients that is having a significant impact on their bottom line.
With citizens refraining from going out, the number of patients visiting hospitals has plummeted as they are staying away even if they have symptoms, and are tending to avoid emergency medical treatment, surgery and medical checkups.
Oriental medicine clinics and dental clinics, which have a lot of contact with patients in the course of treatment, are the bearing the brunt of this burden.
Plastic surgery clinics and institutions specializing in medical checkups have also been hit hard.
The number of patients hospitalized and outpatients at mid-sized hospitals has decreased due to anxiety over COVID-19.
A dentist in Seo District, Gwangju has seen patient numbers decrease by more than 30 percent since the end of February compared to the same period last year.
“There are many patients who are worried about splashes of saliva in the process of opening their mouths and treating their teeth,” said a dentist.
The Gwangju Korean Medical Association also said that the number of patients at local oriental medicine clinics and oriental medicine hospitals dropped by 50 to 70 percent.
Patients who have been receiving long-term acupuncture treatment are also decreasing in number.
The same was true of the pain medicine department and orthopedics, which conduct physical therapy in relatively crowded areas.
The situation is similar for plastic surgery clinics, which account for a large portion of beauty treatment, and for institutions that specialize in medical checkups with fewer people in the first half compared to the second half of the year when compulsory medical check-ups must be completed.
A plastic surgery department in the same area nearly halved the number of patients who underwent surgery between February and March this year compared to the same period last year.
Due to the circumstances, there were many clinics where employees were encouraged to take turns to use annual leave or hiring new employees had been put off until the situation stabilizes.
D. M. Park (firstname.lastname@example.org)