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South Korea: The challenge of returning to normal life

In the past few days, the number of new cases in a single day has reached a record high, indicating that the road to normal life in South Korea is still bumpy, and the government needs to introduce corresponding policies.

South Korea: The challenge of returning to normal life
South Korea: The challenge of returning to normal life

Despite the record high number of COVID-19 infections, the South Korean government is steadfast in adjusting its COVID-19 pandemic management policies to gradually ease social distancing measures and pandemic response measures. Common diseases with the ultimate purpose of restoring people’s daily life.

South Korea is at its worst peak of COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began, with infections reaching a record high of nearly 630,000 a day.

However, the South Korean government still decided to allow private meetings of up to eight people from March 21, instead of the current six. Businesses and services are open until 11pm daily.

Also from March 21, tourists entering South Korea will be exempted from self-quarantine for 7 days if they have proof of full vaccination and a negative PCR certificate.

Previously, South Korea cancelled most of the epidemic prevention and control measures, such as mandatory “vaccine eradication”, only requiring masks in public places, and canceling retrospective measures. , PCR testing is not required, and self-test kits identify test results when performed in a medical facility.

Schools in South Korea have reopened since early March, allowing students to attend school in person rather than online.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KDCA) said the cumulative number of infections in South Korea has approached 9 million since the outbreak began, and the total number of people who have died from COVID-19 has approached 12,000. . .

In the past 7 days, the daily average number of COVID-19 cases has exceeded 345,000, the average daily fatality rate is 230, and the case fatality rate is 0.14%, which is a low case fatality rate. Almost zero under the age of 60. The number of critically ill patients ranges from 1,100 to 1,200.

The Korean government believes that the mortality rate of the Omicron variant has dropped to the level of seasonal influenza (0.05-0.1%), which is comparable to the current level of severe illness and death. At this time, it is necessary to review plans to quell the COVID-19 outbreak.

Currently, authorities are discussing reducing the COVID-19 epidemic from level 1 to level 2.

At this week’s COVID-19 response meeting, South Korean Prime Minister Kim Soo-kyung stressed the need to de-escalate to adapt to changes in the outbreak and return the health system to normal. . . to resume normal operation.

He also called on medical staff to change the way they treat and respond to the COVID-19 epidemic in the new context.

South Korea divides the threat level of infectious diseases into four levels. The minimum is level 4 and the maximum is level 1. In addition to COVID-19, level 1 infectious diseases include acute respiratory syndrome, MERS, Ebola, H1N1 flu, and chickenpox seasons.

The law states that if a level 1 infectious disease is detected, the government must be notified immediately and an updated tracking system run. Other levels do not have this requirement.

Therefore, if the COVID-19 outbreak rises to level 2, there will be major changes in disease management measures. The first is that infections are no longer calculated, managed and treated in real time as they once were.

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