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Reflecting on a second year of COVID-19

Posted January. 20, 2022 08:06,   

Updated January. 20, 2022 08:06


Today marks the second year of the first COVID-19 case in South Korea. Having hit by four waves of the pandemic, 705,902 people have been infected and 6,452 people have died from the pandemic as of Wednesday midnight Korea time. 1.4 in every 100 people are the infected, and the number of deaths is twice as many as the number of people died from traffic accidents.

The lives of survivors have also been turned upside down. Those who were confirmed to have been infected with COVID-19 are haunted with a sense of guilt; more than 300,000 self-employed closed their business. The self-employed are feeling helplessness; and the remaining population suffer depression from social distancing. Three out of 10 people are at risk of suicide.

Although COVID-19 vaccination rate amounts to 85% and oral antivirals have been developed, the pandemic seems nowhere near the end, and the Omicron variant that is three times more transmissible than the Delta variant has emerged, bringing a fifth wave of COVID-19 infections around the globe. South Korea has also been hit by the Omicron variant that has reversed the downward trend of the number of new cases. As of Wednesday midnight, the daily new confirmed cases reached 5,805, exceeding the 5,000 level in 20 days since Dec. 30, 2021 (5,034 cases). From as early as tomorrow, the Omicron variant will become a dominant strain, raising concerns over a sudden surge in daily confirmed cases up to 20,000.

The government announced a plan to initiate the “Omicron response phase” when the number of daily infections soars to 7,000, the gist of which is to have the population aged less than 65 years examined and treated at a local clinic, which means that the COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment system will be completely overhauled to provide a targeted response against the Omicron variant. A meagre 1,200 cases are left to reach 7,000, yet the government is not announcing how many local clinics will participate in the coronavirus diagnosis and treatment. Critical preparedness and readiness are required to prevent further spread of the Omicron variant, but the government is idly allowing time to elapse. It needs to disclose a specific plan to avoid confusion.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is nowhere near over, and we should never take the Omicron variant lightly. When one crisis moment passed, a bigger wave came. Instead of readily speaking hope by saying that “the end of tunnel is visible,” the government should enhance its ability to prevent the spread of the virus and treat the disease, and help those whose lives have been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.