The South Korean government announced on Thursday that it would allow in-person visits in care homes and facilities for those who received their second dose two weeks prior to the visit – a second vaccine “incentive” following the exemption from self-isolation announced on Wednesday.
The decision has been made given lowering infection at care homes. More than 75 percent of residents and staff including healthcare workers have already been vaccinated, surpassing the 70 percent threshold for herd immunity. “After vaccination, care homes in cohort isolation dropped from 16 to nine, while confirmed cases went down by more than 85 percent from 234 to 34,” said Health and Welfare Minister Kwon Deok-chul.
It has not yet been decided, however, when the restriction will be eased. The ministry will also decide if both patients and visitors would be required to be vaccinated, or only patients would be asked to be fully vaccinated. “The government is setting up guidelines to determine the requirements for care home visits such as vaccination levels and use of PPE,” said Jeong Eun-Kyeong, the commissioner of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. The authorities have decided to reduce the number of PCR tests given to staff at care homes and facilities from two times a week to once every one or two weeks.