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  • Seoul Makes Efforts for Zero Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in the Subway

  • Transport News SMG 4671

    It has been 100 days since the country raised the Crisis Alert Level to red (the highest) due to the spread of COVID-19. As the number of confirmed cases has exceeded 11,000 in South Korea and 6 million across the world, COVID-19 has developed into a pandemic.

    Fortunately, so far, there have been no cases of transmission in the Seoul subway that is used by 7.3 million people a day on average. Seoul Metro, which has maintained zero confirmed cases based on thorough disinfection and response to the disaster, introduces its efforts and records that it has made to prevent the spread of the infectious disease over the past 100 days after the crisis alert level was raised to red.

    <Disinfection of the platform facilities and trains everyday–over 370,000 disinfections in total>
    After South Korea raised the contagious disease alert level to red on January 27, Seoul Metro has continued to conduct disinfections to the fullest as it recognizes the seriousness of the situation. Seoul Metro disinfects the facilities that are touched by passengers (escalator handrails, ticket vending machines, etc.) in all 278 stations (Lines 1-8) 4 times a day (including twice during commuting hours) and the restrooms twice a day.

    Disinfection of the platform facilities and trains everyday–over 370,000 disinfections in total
    ▼ Every station is disinfected 4 times a day to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

    Seoul Metro also disinfects the insides of the trains regularly. Each time, workers wearing the uniform sterilize the inside of the trains using an ultrafine spray and wipe the handles and safety rails beside the seats. Whenever a train arrives at the base station, the seats are thoroughly cleansed with a steam vacuum cleaner.

    Every time a train arrives at the base station, the inside of the train is thoroughly disinfected.
    ▼ Every time a train arrives at the base station, the inside of the train is thoroughly disinfected.

    The facilities in the station have been disinfected 211,732 times and the inside of trains have been disinfected 161,461 times. This means that the subways have been disinfected a total of 373,193 times, or about 3,700 times per day.

    Workers and supplies that are used for disinfection are quite sizeable. 1,724 individuals are working for disinfection of the platform and 556 individuals for the inside of trains. Every day, 73.6 liters of undiluted solution (20.6 liters for the platform, 53 liters for the train) are used. The solution is utilized after being mixed with water at a ratio of 1:200, which means about 15,000 liters of disinfectant are being used. Every day, 41 anti-contaminant clothes are worn as well.

    <When it is confirmed that a confirmed case rode the subway, Seoul Metro promptly disinfects the facilities after checking his or her paths of movement>
    When collective transmissions occurred in the Korea Building Call Center in Guro on March 9, Itaewon Clubs on May 6, Logistics Center on May 27, every confirmed patient’s path of movement was disinfected.

    Apart from Lines 1 to 8, which is operated by Seoul Metro, the complete paths of movement were also disinfected on the Ui-Sinseol Line and Line 9 after confirmation that a confirmed patient rode the subway based on cooperation between the management agency and Seoul Metro.
    Thermal video cameras are installed in major subway stations near the train stations and bus terminals into which a large population comes into the city from outside the capital area to prevent confirmed patients from going in through the ticket barrier.

    These efforts have prevented the occurrence of confirmed cases in subway stations so far. Seoul Metro not only conducts disinfection of confirmed patients’ paths of movement if necessary, but also implements additional measures by collaborating with community health centers and the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    <The gradually increasing number of passengers in line with “distancing in daily life” campaign…decrease expected when there collective infection occurs>
    After the crisis alert level was set to red, there was a distinct change in the number of passengers in subway trains. The “intensive social distancing” campaign was in practice after local transmission spread. The number of passengers of the subway train decreased as the government conducted control of facilities used by multitudes, encouragement of working from home, cancellation of big events, and postponement of the opening of schools.

    As the “social distancing” campaign was replaced with the “distancing in daily life” campaign on May 6, the number of passengers has slowly been increasing. However, the number temporarily decreased again when collective infections occurred in Itaewon Clubs and the logistics center, yet to reach normal levels.

    As the number of passengers changes according to the COVID-19 situation, Seoul Metro and the Seoul Metropolitan Government are putting restrictions on passengers who are not wearing masks from riding congested subway trains starting on May 13 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

    <The era of “untact” caused by COVID-19–prevention and encouragement through social media>
    As the social distancing movement became vitalized due to COVID-19, the “untact” culture, which prefers to minimize face-to-face contact, is establishing itself as a staple in our society.

    In line with this tendency, Seoul Metro is delivering messages to prevent COVID-19 and encourage citizens through its official social media channels, including YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

    Starting on May 13, Seoul Metro has been providing the “congestion level forecast” service. Passengers can be informed of the congestion level forecast for the next day based on big data analysis through social media.

    <Making the subway a “Coronavirus-FREE Zone” while protecting workers from the disease to prevent trains from stopping service>
    Seoul Metro continued to prepare measures to prevent COVID-19 infection not only for passengers but also for its employees. Those who work face-to-face with passengers have been provided with disposable protective clothing and transparent acrylic panels which were procured to block droplets in their work areas.

    Seoul Metro is putting in extra efforts to prevent the infection of officials who are working in the comprehensive control tower and engineers who drive trains, as the overall operation of trains could be suspended should they get infected.

    In the headquarters, they separated work areas from each other so that employees could continue working even if a confirmed COVID-19 case occurs. In the cafeteria, employees are offered meals in sequential order and seated separately. Their body temperatures are also checked twice a day, in the morning and the afternoon. Thanks to these efforts, there have been no confirmed cases among the employees of Seoul Metro.