A small scuffle between medical staff dressed in white gowns and a foreign worker occurred at the parking lot of the Northern Gyeonggi office of the Korea Industrial Complex Corporation in the morning of Thursday in Ansan City. A, a Chinese foreign worker, had submitted an invalid address submitting information for COVID-19 vaccination on concerns of being identified as a non-registered expatriate. There were signs that said “illegal stay would not be prosecuted,” but A did not let down his guard. After some persuasion by medical staff, A gave in and submitted a friend’s address and got vaccinated. 348 were vaccinated over the last four days starting on Oct 6 by the ‘Vaccine Bus’. 152 of them are illegal immigrants like A.
Health authorities are urgently preparing to boost vaccination for foreign workers ahead of the government’s scheme of “With Corona” under which COVID-19 is treated as an infectious respiratory disease like the seasonal influenza, with eased distancing being implemented. According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, domestic vaccination rate is 59.3% as of Monday. However, the rate is less than half at only 31.4% (as of Aug 7) for foreigners. Mass infection cases continue to occur as they lack vaccine access. Confirmed cases that was caused by a gathering of friends by a foreigner in Daegu surged to 840. According to the KDCA, 83.1% of adult confirmed cases occurred over a two week period from Sept 12 occurred on unvaccinated or partially vaccinated cases, showing that infection among the unvaccinated relatively prevalent.
Gyeonggi province is planning to run Vaccine Buses in Anseong and Hwaseong Cities. The municipal government of Kimje of South Gyeongsang Provence is searching for some 6,000 non-registered foreign workers to encourage vaccination. However, some say that providing information or mobile vaccine access is not enough. “There are several cases where people are unable to tell their employers about vaccination out of concerns that work might be reduced when they take the day off,” said Park (age 51), a Chinese foreign worker. “Some foreigners say that they cannot get vaccinated because their passports were taken by their employers. We need to change the mindset of employers,” said Choi Chul-yeong, who heads the Foreign Resident Support Center in Wonju.
The number of new confirmed cases in Korea stands at 1,297, which is the lowest in two months. Health authorities are concerned, however, that the number might grow again after the extended weekend following Hangul Day on Monday (Oct 9-11). The KDCA predicted that daily number of confirmed cases as of end of Oct may grow to 3,500-4,300 if current trends persist.