The number of new daily COVID-19 cases in South Korea has recorded around 2,000 for three days until Thursday, showing the sign of potential mass infections. In particular, the daily average of new cases in Seoul and nearby regions reached 1,361 during the past week, the highest number since the initial outbreak of the virus in the country. As in the case of the summer holiday season in August, COVID-19 infections may spread across the country with people in Seoul and nearby regions visiting other cities and returning home for Chuseok.
Since the restriction on the number of people allowed for gatherings was eased on Sept. 6, the overall movement of people in the country increased by five percent from the level before COVID-19. It is likely to further increase to the level 30 percent higher than the Lunar New Year in February as the restriction on family gatherings is relaxed for a week around the Chuseok holiday. The southbound trains departing from Seoul are almost fully booked, and reservations for express buses also soared. It is a relief that the target of 70 percent first dose vaccination rate was achieved before Chuseok, but it can backfire if people become too lax.
With the current trend, the number of daily cases will rise to 4,000, which will make infeasible the government’s plan to gradually return to normal daily lives under the ‘With Corona’ system. These days, visiting one’s parents can be an unfilial decision if the parents become infected. Those who haven’t been vaccinated should refrain from traveling, and even people who have completed the first or second dose should keep family gatherings short. Those who travel by bus or train should wear masks at all times and go to temporary treatment centers located in train stations, bus terminals, and rest stops if there are any symptoms.
Holidays seasons are when emergency patients sharply rise. Considering the possibility that a number of people who suspect COVID-19 may come to hospitals, the health authorities should prepare for the smooth operation of the emergency care system. As remaining available vaccines began to be provided to those who completed the first dose on Friday, the share of people who received both doses will increase at an accelerated pace from the current 42 percent. The government should carefully secure enough hospital beds and build a system for at-home treatment in preparation for the ‘With Corona’ approach, which will be discussed in full gear after the Chuseok holiday.