How South Korea Solved Its Face Mask Shortage

韩国是如何解决口罩紧缺问题的

纽约时报双语版-韩国是如何解决口罩紧缺问题的

上周在韩国首尔的一条街道。起初口罩供应不足,但在国内产能的相当一部分由政府采购后,民众购买口罩开始容易起来。
Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Sign up for NYT Chinese-language Morning Briefing.

The coronavirus erupted in South Korea in late January, six months into Yoo Yoon-sook’s new job. She had just moved from Seoul, where she spent three decades working in the same pharmacy, to open the Hankyeol (“Steadfast”) Pharmacy in the city of Incheon, near the international airport. Ms. Yoo hadn’t really gotten a sense of the neighborhood around her new pharmacy “before this all happened,” she told me. It became all coronavirus, all the time.

1月下旬冠状病毒在韩国暴发时,柳允淑(Yoo Yoon-sook,音)的新工作刚开始六个月。此前,她在首尔的同一家药房工作了30年。她刚搬离首尔,在国际机场附近的仁川市开了一家“坚定”药房(Hankyeol)。她告诉我,“在这一切发生之前”,她还没有来得及了解新药房附近的街区。冠状病毒成了一切,无时无刻不是如此。

Incheon’s 1,100 pharmacies, including Ms. Yoo’s, began to sell out of KF-94 face masks, the equivalent of the American N95. So did corner stores and large retail chains like E-Mart. As Koreans learned of the scale and aggressiveness of Covid-19, first from Chinese reports, then from a surge of cases at home, the mask with the weave and construction that proved most effective against the virus could not be found, except at exorbitant prices online. Customers grew angry waiting outside stores. One Incheon pharmacy posted a sign saying, “Regarding masks: Threats, physical violence and insults against employees are punishable under criminal law.”

包括柳允淑的药房在内,仁川1100家药房的KF-94口罩相继售罄,这种口罩相当于美国的N95。转角小店和像E-Mart这样的大型零售连锁店也是如此。韩国人先是从中国报道中了解到Covid-19的规模和威胁,然后自己国家又出现了大量病例,此时,那些在编织和构造上对病毒防护最有效的口罩已经买不到了,除非花大价钱去网上买。顾客在商店外愤怒地等待。仁川一家药房张贴了一个标语,上面写着:“关于口罩:威胁、肢体暴力和对雇员的侮辱行为将受到法律制裁。”

Such was the extent of the “mask crisis” when the central government decided to intervene in production and distribution. At the end of February, it announced that it would purchase 50 percent of KF-94 masks from the nation’s 130 or so manufacturers. The government began to ship these masks, at a discounted price of 1,500 won each (about $1.23), to some 23,000 pharmacies, in cooperation with the Korean Pharmaceutical Association.

中央政府就是在“口罩危机”发展到这个程度时决定干预生产和分配的。2月底,政府宣布将从全国130多家制造商那里购买全部KF-94口罩库存的50%。政府开始与韩国药品协会(Korean Pharmaceutical Association)合作,以约1500韩元(约合1.23美元)的折扣价,将这些口罩运送至23000家药房。

Pharmacies would earn no more than a few dozen cents on each sale — a few even reported losing money because of credit-card fees — but they embraced their role in the epidemic response. Licensed pharmacists were ideally placed to answer questions about Covid-19, give instructions on social distancing and proper use of masks, and refer sick people to field testing stations and hospitals. (In rural areas of South Korea, where there are fewer pharmacies, agricultural cooperative offices and post offices sell the face masks.)

药房每笔交易的收入不会超过几十美分——甚至有几家报告因信用卡手续费而亏钱——但他们在疫情应对中欣然接受了任务。执业药剂师是完成某些任务的理想人选,比如他们会回答有关Covid-19的问题,提供有关保持社交距离和正确使用口罩的说明,并将病人转到现场检测站和医院。(在药房较少的韩国农村地区,口罩在农业合作社和邮局出售。)

纽约时报双语版-韩国是如何解决口罩紧缺问题的

韩国首尔一名药剂师和待售的口罩。
Heo Ran/Reuters

At Hankyeol Pharmacy, Ms. Yoo posted a sign on the door, telling customers that the sale of KF-94s would begin at 9 a.m. every morning. It was impossible to fill prescriptions or sell anything else during the mask rush. “All of us local pharmacists posted the various times of sale on our door and a map of all the nearby locations,” she told me. Popular mapping apps from Kakao and Naver also showed information on pharmacies and real-time numbers of available masks.

柳允淑在坚定药房的门上贴了一个标语告诉客户,KF-94的销售将于每天早上9点开始。在抢购口罩期间,无法开处方或卖其他东西。她对我说:“我们所有本地药剂师都在门上张贴了不同的销售时间,并在地图上列出了所有附近的店铺。”人们常用的来自Kakao和Naver的地图应用还显示了有关药房的信息以及可售口罩的实时数量。

Ms. Yoo was initially allotted 50 masks per day, six days a week, but this wasn’t nearly enough. As South Korea’s infection and fatality numbers grew, people felt desperate for protection. Across the country, pharmacists continued to face long lines and insults when masks sold out.

每周六天,柳允淑起初每天被会分到50个口罩,但这远远不够。随着韩国感染和死亡人数的增加,人们迫切希望获得保护措施。在全国范围内,当口罩售罄时,药剂师还要面对长长的队伍和谩骂。

On March 5, the government increased its share of mask purchases to 80 percent of national production. The following day, Ms. Yoo received a text message from President Moon Jae-in, addressed to “the pharmacists of Korea.” In addition to expanding mask manufacturing, the government was about to start a new rationing system.

3月5日,政府将口罩购买份额提高到了全国产量的80%。次日,柳允淑收到文在寅总统发给“韩国药剂师”的短信。除了扩大口罩制造,政府还将启动新的配给系统。

“Starting today, 70 percent of all masks acquired through the public distribution system will be sold at pharmacies,” Mr. Moon wrote. “Pharmacies are the primary on-the-ground node in our public health system.” All citizens and registered noncitizens could buy two masks per week on an assigned weekday, depending on their year of birth — a system similar to one used in Taiwan since early February.

“从今天开始,通过公共发放系统购买的所有口罩的70%将在药房出售,”文在寅写道。“药房是我们公共卫生系统中的主要地面节点。”所有公民和已注册的非公民都可以按照他们的出生年份在指定的工作日内每周购买两个口罩——该系统类似于自2月初以来台湾使用的发放系统。

The Incheon Pharmaceutical Association encouraged its members to stay open on Sundays, to receive as many daily shipments as possible, so Ms. Yoo began working seven days a week. Her daily shipment went from 50 to 400 masks, with more on the weekends.

仁川医药协会(Incheon Pharmaceutical Association)鼓励会员在周日营业,尽可能接收每日配额,因此柳允淑开始每周工作七天。她每天收到的口罩配额从50个增加到400个,周末更多。

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is weighing whether to recommend that everyone — not just health care workers and people infected with the coronavirus — wear masks. If this advice is issued, Americans may finally embrace wearing face masks, something that has long been common in East Asia, not only during disease outbreaks, but also during cold season and whenever air pollution levels rise.

本周,美国疾病控制与预防中心(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)正在权衡是否建议所有人——不仅仅是医护人员和冠状病毒感染者——都戴口罩。一旦做出这个建议,美国人可能最终会接受口罩,它在东亚很常见,不仅在疾病暴发期间,在寒冷的季节和空气污染水平上升期间也是如此。

Such guidance could also worsen the already dire shortage of N95 face masks and other personal protective equipment. 3M has promised to make more than a billion N95 masks by the end of the year. But without a vast expansion of complementary manufacturing or imports, supplies will be inadequate.

这样的指导还可能使N95口罩和其他个人防护设备本已严重短缺的情况进一步恶化。3M公司承诺在今年年底之前生产超过10亿个N95口罩。但是,如果不大规模扩大配套制造或进口,供应将会不足。

South Korea and Taiwan responded to their mask crises with significant market interventions. America needs to do the same. The U.S. government, and state and municipal bodies, should immediately enter into large-scale contracts to produce masks that can be sold at an affordable, standard price.

韩国和台湾以大规模市场干预来应对“口罩危机”。美国也需要这样做。美国政府、州和市政机构应立即签订大规模合同,生产价格合理的标准口罩。

These masks (and other personal protective equipment) should go first to health providers and hospitals, then to essential workers in sanitation, warehouses, transportation, food service, child-care centers, and people in prisons and detention facilities. A distribution plan along the lines of those in East Asia could then get masks to the public, perhaps through pharmacies, corner stores and post offices. Some of those masks should also be allocated, free of charge, to people who are homeless or living below the federal poverty level.

这些口罩(以及其他个人防护设备)应该首先送到卫生机构和医院,然后送到卫生设施、仓库、运输、食品服务、儿童护理中心和监狱及拘留设施的人员手中。按照东亚地区的分发计划,可以通过药店、街角商店和邮局将口罩分发给公众。其中一些口罩还应该免费分配给无家可归或生活在联邦贫困线以下的人。

For most of us, an N95 mask is not strictly necessary. Last weekend, I used a free online pattern to sew masks for myself and family members, using old handkerchiefs, shirts and elastic hair ties. I wore my homemade mask, reinforced with a large gauze bandage, to the grocery store and bodega, while trying to stay six feet away from fellow shoppers.

对于我们大多数人来说,N95口罩并不是必须的。上周末,我用网上免费提供的图样为自己和家人缝制口罩,用的是旧手帕、衬衫和弹性发带。我戴着用一块大纱布绷带加固的自制口罩去了大小杂货店,同时努力与其他顾客保持六英尺的距离。

To survive this pandemic, we Americans must stop viewing masks as a sign of disease, and see them instead as a social kindness, a courtesy as common as “please” and “thank you.” As Choi Gwi-ok, a pharmacist in northern Seoul, told me, “Koreans wear masks to protect themselves from infections, but, even more important, to show consideration for others in public.”

为了在这场大流行中幸存,我们美国人必须停止将口罩视为疾病的表现,而是将其视为一种社会友善,一种像“请”和“谢谢”一样常见的礼貌。首尔北部的药剂师崔桂玉(Choi Gwi-ok,音)告诉我,“韩国人戴口罩是为了保护自己不受感染,但更重要的是,也是在公共场合关照他人。”

Kuk Seung-gon, the president of the pharmacists’ association in Gimcheon, near South Korea’s Covid-19 hot spot, told me: “It’s been terrible to see what’s been happening in Europe and America. I really hope that, in the West, people develop a culture of mask wearing. A mask is not just for sick patients.”

韩国Covid-19感染热点附近城市金川的药剂师协会会长国承健(Kuk Seung-gon,音)告诉我:“欧洲和美国的情况看上去非常可怕。我真的希望西方人能养成戴口罩的文化。口罩不只是给病人用的。”

By the end of March, the lines for masks outside South Korea’s pharmacies had become manageable. “Now that people are able to buy two masks per week, they feel reassured,” Ms. Yoo told me. “We pharmacists do, too.”

到3月底,韩国药店外买口罩的长队已经没那么夸张。“现在人们每周可以买到两个口罩,他们觉得放心了,”柳允淑告诉我。“我们药剂师也是一样。”

“After three weeks of constant work, the fatigue has built up. I’m very tired,” she said. But she feels a duty to the public, and plans to keep the pharmacy open seven days a week until the crisis is over.

“连续工作三周后,我的疲劳感越来越重。我很累,”她说。但她觉得自己对公众负有责任,并计划继续每周七天营业,直到危机结束。