The South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae appears to be flustered as the country is seeing a spike in new COVID-19 cases only nine days after President Moon Jae-in said the administration would boost domestic demand through supplementary budget, such as issuing discount coupons.
During a meeting on COVID-19 response on Wednesday, President Moon said “special measures are required” to curb the ongoing spread of COVID-19. He instructed officials to advance efforts to swiftly trace the route of infections and called on local governments to strengthen their capacity to identify contacts. He also ordered health authorities to expand treatment centers and check the capacity of hospital beds. President Moon vowed zero tolerance for businesses violating COVID-19 guidelines.
About the coronavirus spreading rapidly among people in their 20s and 30s, a Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters that older age groups have been the priority groups for COVID-19 vaccinations but the government is aware of the popular opinion that younger people, who are generally more active, should be vaccinated first, adding the government will take these opinions into consideration. This means that the priority groups can be changed depending on the situation of COVID-19 and younger people can be vaccinated first.
Some point out that the government ignored warnings from experts that the COVID-19 cases can surge during the summer vacation, for example due to the delta variant, and encouraged people to let their guard down by hastily announcing its plans to ease social distancing rules. President Moon instructed health officials on June 7 to strike a balance between COVID-19 response efforts and rest during the summer vacation as people are exhausted with prolonged COVID-19 quarantine efforts. Although the number of new COVID-19 cases has increased by 10 percent every week for the past four weeks, President Moon said on June 28 that drastic measures need to be implemented to stimulate consumption.
Another Cheong Wa Dae official said the government should find a balance between experts’ opinions on COVID-19 response efforts and people’s livelihoods.