As the vaccination rate increases, interest in the so-called ‘With Corona’ system, which means practicing disease control efforts while allowing normal life, is growing. According to the Central Disaster Management Headquarters, seven out of 10 South Koreans agree with a transition to ‘With Corona’ system. However, some point out that people’s expectations are creating some misunderstandings. Here are the answers to questions about ‘With Corona’ based on experts and disease control authorities.
The most common misunderstanding is that social distancing and other disease control guidelines will be removed after the transition. For example, many expect that they won’t have to wear a mask and will be allowed to have gatherings without restrictions from early November. Experts and disease control authorities both say that that is not the case.
Disease control authorities are wary of the expectations to ease such guidelines suddenly. “As people grow tired of prolonged social distancing, many have expectations for sudden changes,” said Son Young-rae, the head of the social strategy team at the Central Disaster Management Headquarters. “A transition to ‘With Corona’ will be made gradually once vaccination rate increases and the rates of hospitalization, severe cases, and deaths fall.” The government is using alternative terms, such as ‘gradual recovery to normal life,’ in a caution against such premature relaxation of disease control efforts.
While many wish not to wear a mask anymore, it won’t happen quickly. In particular, wearing a mask will be required for a while indoors. “The policy to wear a mask indoors should be kept until the very last minute when it becomes much safer,” Jeong Eun-kyeong, the Commissioner of Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, said at the plenary session of the National Assembly’s Special Committee on Budget & Accounts meeting on Tuesday.
Some say that there is no need to control the increasing number of COVID-19 cases once the transition is made, managing only severe cases and deaths. “If the number of new cases rises, patients with serious symptoms and deaths will also increase,” said Professor Hong Yoon-cheol of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Seoul National University. “The efforts to reduce new cases should be continuously carried out.”
The government will examine a transition to ‘With Corona’ from the end of October. However, it put forward a precondition that the number of new cases should decrease in September. As September includes schools and colleges starting a new semester and the Chuseok holiday, the following month will be a critical period for the transition.