Infect Chemother.  2021 Mar;53(1):84-95. 10.3947/ic.2020.0143.

Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak in The Emergency Department Designed for Emerging Infectious Diseases in Korea

  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, National Medical Center, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Division of Infectious Diseases, National Medical Center, Seoul, Korea
  • 3Department of Emergency Medicine, Seongnam Citizens Medical Center, Seongnam, Korea
  • 4National Emergency Medical Center, National Medical Center, Seoul, Korea
  • 5Department of Emergency Medicine, College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul, Korea


According to the recent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic experience, many emergency departments experience difficulties in responding to emerging infectious diseases and this has led to a public health crisis. Our emergency department (ED) is designed to respond to mass outbreaks of infection. Three major preparations were taken to respond to infectious disease; first, to improve the emergency department facilities; second, to created programs to respond to each phase of an epidemic of COVID-19; lastly, to implemented education and training to promote the safety of medical staff. We would like to share the actual responses and statistics of patients visiting emergency department during COVID-19 periods of pandemic.
Materials and Methods
This research was conducted through a retrospective chart analysis provided by a public medical center with 502 beds since the first report of a COVID-19 confirmed case on January 19, 2020 to June 15, 2020 in Seoul, the capital of Korea. Our emergency department was designed based on Korean Regional Emergency Center Facility Standards, and modified throughout each phases of COVID-19 outbreak. Patients suspected to be infectious are screened in the triage, separating them from general patients, and then receive isolation treatment in isolated wards.
A total of 4,352 patients visited the ED. 3,202 screenings were conducted with 5 confirmed cases. Another 1,150 patients were treated with general emergent symptoms. There were no problems such as closure of the emergency department or isolation of medical staff while managing COVID-19 confirmed patients.
Improving emergency department facilities, create an operational program to respond to each phase of COVID-19 outbreak and implement educational programs enabled large number of screening tests and hospitalization for COVID-19 suspected patients while maintaining general medical services. Research in emergency department designs and operational programs should increase to combine research data with better ideas to respond not only during regular periods but also during periods of pandemic.


COVID-19 pandemic; Infectious disease; Emergency department; Triage
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