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Health workers facing 12-hour shifts in temps so cold their pens don't work
Updated: 2020-12-31 05:54:49 KST
Temperatures dropped to minus 12.3 degrees Celsius on Wednesday morning in Seoul.
The biting winds made it feel more like minus twenty.

But even in this freezing winter weather, the fight against COVID-19 cannot stop.
The protective suits of healthcare workers may protect them against the virus, but against this ruthless winter wind.

"When we wear our protective suits, we have to keep standing outside and can't go back indoors. So we attach heating pads onto our bodies and put on a lot of layers to try to cope with the cold."

In the past two weeks, the 150 temporary coronavirus testing centers in the greater Seoul area, have tested more than 500-thousand people and uncovered more than 15-hundred cases of COVID-19.
On Wednesday alone, these temporary centers identified 107 silent virus carriers, more than 10 percent of Wednesday's local transmissions.
Behind this impressive feat is the selfless work of healthcare workers.
They work 12-hour shifts out in the cold, sometimes burning through five to six hundred test samples a day.

"The temperature today got so low that the ink in the pens froze. And the protective shields kept fogging up. The fog later turned into water droplets and sometimes even froze too. It was uncomfortable because I couldn't see ahead."

"Hands and feet get the coldest. All we can do to keep them warm is hold on to heat pads. The sensors in the thermometers also get really cold, they often don't work properly."

As the coldest period of winter is just beginning, healthcare workers will have some tough weeks ahead.
Especially as the temporary testing centers have been extended for 2 weeks longer than planned and will now be open until January 17th.
Kim Yeon-seung, Arirang News
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