Explosive growth of Covid-19 cases in recent days has brought South Korea to a watershed moment in its bid to lower the social distancing level and to transition to ‘With Covid-19’ policy. The government considers prevention of ‘further transmission of the epidemics’ that escalated during the Chuseok holiday as the key to overcoming the situation.
“Disease control situation this week will be determining what we can do with the starting point for phased return to normalcy (With Covid-19),” Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum told a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters on Sunday. Earlier on Saturday, Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency also said, “We will be able to implement our roadmap for phased return to normalcy only when we can minimize further transmission from asymptomatic patients and patients with light symptoms who were infected during the holiday.” They have thus indicated that if confirmed cases continue occur at the current level, easing of quarantine measures in late October will be difficult to implement.
This practically reflects the gravity of the situation. More than 10,000 confirmed cases were reported for four days from Thursday to Sunday. The highest ever number of 3,273 cases was reported as of 00:00 hours Saturday, before 2,771 cases were reported on Sunday. The growth rate of confirmed cases in provincial regions amounted to double that in the Seoul metropolitan region, clearly indicating the spread of the disease across the nation.
In order to prevent the worst situation, the government has decided to advance a bit further its target of achieving a 70 percent vaccination rate by the end of October. To this end, the government plans to reduce the interval between the first and second dosing of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines from six weeks to three or four weeks.
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