June 22, 2015 13:10
Koreans are going out less for fear of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, even if it means not going to see a doctor when they are sick or not taking their children to the park.
The Chosun Ilbo and SK Planet analyzed 101.41 million driving records of 10.25 million people using map app T Map in the last two months, four weeks before and after the first case of MERS was confirmed on May 20.
The number of trips to the top 100 most frequented destinations decreased 17.2 percent after the MERS epidemic.
Amusement parks such as Everland, Seoul Grand Park, Children's Grand Park, and Lotte World saw the biggest drop.
Trips to the 10 most popular amusement parks dropped 30.7 percent. Children's Grand Park in Seoul was hit particularly hard, with the number of registers on T Map almost halving.
There was also a clear plunge in consumer confidence. Traffic volume to the 10 major shopping centers, including IKEA, Costco and outlet malls fell by 19.7 percent.
Many people also refrained from traveling as trips to major transportation hubs such as Seoul Station, Gwangmyeong Station and Suwon Station as well as Incheon, Gimpo and Jeju airports all dropped.
The analysis also shows an 18.2-percent drop in trips to 10 major hospitals. Hospitals where MERS infections were found or that treated patients, including Samsung Medical Center and Asan Medical Center, saw a 20-30 percent drop in destinations on T Map.
But Yonsei Severance Hospital in Sinchon, which had no known connection to MERS, also saw a drop of 13 percent.
Lee Myung-jin, a sociology professor at Korea University said, "People have no confidence because they don't know who might be infected. That's why there's this inactivity at the moment."
That raises concerns of economic inactivity worsening the recession.
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