South Korea’s daily new COVID-19 cases have topped 2,000 for three consecutive days until yesterday. The government estimated that the number of new daily COVID-19 patients would reach 1,527 to 2,810 around Nov. 24 with the start of the “living with COVID-19 (the so-called With Corona)” scheme on Monday, but the government’s expectation was realized three weeks earlier. There is already a growing concern over possible shortage of hospital beds as the number of seriously ill patients is expected to soar to the 800 level in a month, doubling the current level.
Five days into the “With corona” scheme yesterday, the government issued an administrative order to secure 1,348 hospital beds dedicated to coronavirus patients in the metropolitan area. The country can handle 7,000 patients per day if hospital beds are added according to the government’s plan. However, if additional medical staff are not recruited, added hospital beds will be no use. Rather than leaving the matter in the hands of hospitals, the government should provide maximum support of trained nursing personnel. The number of home treatment patients has jumped to 4,000, but non-contact treatment is not working well. Home treatment is the key to the success of the “With corona” scheme. The government should revamp the entire process, ranging from the selection of home treatment patients to health monitoring to transfer to hospital in case of emergency.
Europe is seeing the highest number of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with 500,000 more COVID-19 deaths expected by February next year. This is due to slowing vaccination rate and ease of COVID-19 rules as many European countries declared to live with COVID-19. Experts are warning of a “twindemic” of flu and COVID-19 ahead of the winter season. Taking the lesson from Europe, we should help the soft landing of the “With corona” scheme by raising the vaccination rate and making voluntary efforts, such as wearing a mask and ventilating indoor spaces.