With an increasing number of people showing serious symptoms with COVID-19, 76.4 percent of sickbeds for critical patients in Seoul and nearby regions are occupied as of Sunday. In just two weeks after the beginning of gradual resumption to normal lives – also called the “With Corona” system – it surpassed the threshold of 75 percent, which the government set to temporarily suspend the “With Corona” system. In Seoul, 78.6 percent of beds are occupied. The disease control authorities said that the occupation rates of sickbeds for critical patients in Seoul and nearby regions are at risky levels. In the non-metropolitan region, the rate is under 40 percent but is quickly rising. The government is developing a detailed emergency plan.
During the recent week, the average number of new patients per day is 2,172, which is not much higher than the week before. However, due to a series of breakthrough infections among seniors and those in care facilities caused by weakened immunity from early vaccination, the number of new daily critical patients rose from 365 last week to 447 this week. Those aged 60 or older account for 82.1 percent of such serious cases. The number of new critical patients should be reduced by strengthening disease control efforts in such facilities and accelerating the administration of booster shots for older people.
Under the current medical system, up to 500 critical patients are manageable but the figure stands at 471, which is very close to the threshold, as of 12 a.m., Monday. In addition, the number of flu patients doubled with the cold weather, which means preparation for higher demand for sickbeds is necessary. Additional beds and medical professionals should be secured and the operation efficiency of beds should be improved by building a system to transfer patients to non-metropolitan areas.
The main age groups of recent infections are older people, as well as teenagers whose average vaccination rate is low. Over 20 percent of the new patients during the recent week are under 19. Once the college entrance exam on Thursday ends, all students are allowed to attend classes in person at schools in Seoul and nearby regions, which raises concerns about mass infections among adolescents at schools and private schools. More incentives should be put forward to drive the vaccination rate among teenagers.