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This Nation Was Ready For Covid. Now It’s Eyeing the Next Threat

South Korea is looking at its Covid successes -- and failures -- to prepare for the next pandemic, which may come sooner than we think

Workers disinfecting a high school in Anyang, South Korea, in Dec. 2020. In a world that’s trying to move on from the virus, even as it still kills thousands of people a day, Korean officials are once again reviewing their approach, seeking insights for the next pandemic.

Workers disinfecting a high school in Anyang, South Korea, in Dec. 2020. In a world that’s trying to move on from the virus, even as it still kills thousands of people a day, Korean officials are once again reviewing their approach, seeking insights for the next pandemic.

Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Two weeks before China disclosed it was investigating a cluster of  mysterious pneumonia cases in Wuhan in late 2019 -- what the world now knows as Covid-19 -- South Korea’s top health officials gathered for a quarterly table-top exercise to plan their response to a theoretical health threat.

The hazard? A never-before-seen pathogen emerging in China that was causing a spike in pneumonia cases.