Experts suggested that South Korea needs to change its COVID-19 prevention and control measures to a more scientifically oriented one so that it could better accommodate the changed circumstances. To respond to the escalating transmission of the Omicron variant, the existing outdated prevention measures, devised more than two years ago, should be overhauled, experts said.
“Many of the current prevention measures were formulated more than two years ago and that the government should now begin to ease strict controlling measures,” Oh Myung-don, a professor of the Infectious Diseases Section at Seoul National University Hospital and commissioner of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Control Committee, told The Dong-A Ilbo. “We are now much more knowledgeable about the virus and COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutic antibodies have been developed as well.”
The exigency of the need for the change in COVID-19 countermeasures was highlighted by the spread of the Omicron variant, said Oh. “By February, the Omicron variant will become a dominant strain in South Korea. Within one month of remaining golden time, the current guidelines for COVID-19 needs to be revised; otherwise, our healthcare system will be forced to the brink of total collapse.”
The notable feature of the Omicron variant is that it spreads faster but is less likely to lead to critical condition. On the other hand, Korea’s COVID-19 response measures are designed with a focus on severely ill patients. Prof. Oh suggested, as a way to address this mismatch, that the current guidelines under which critical patients are invariably hospitalized in negative pressure rooms should be revised.
In addition, the professor said the self-isolation period of 10 days for people contracted with COVID-19 should be shortened. He also argued that the space suit-like COVID-19 protective clothing for healthcare workers needs to be reformed and that the current guidance for care of the deceased with COVID-19 infection also needs to be revised as well.
“The World Health Organization said that the COVID-19 surge is expected to peak by the mid 2022 when 70% of the world’s population will have fully vaccinated,” Prof. Oh said. “The light at the end of the tunnel is visible.”
Jin-Han Lee firstname.lastname@example.org