The government hinted at the possibility to ‘ease’ Covid-19 restrictions from as early as next week. “If we reach conclusion that we can manage epidemic situations at a proper level, we will made bold decision anytime,” Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said a meeting of the Central Disaster and Countermeasure Headquarters on Friday.
The government indicated that it could ease restrictions even before February 20 when the current level of social distancing is scheduled to end. “We still have a week (for the current level of social distancing), but we will start (easing restrictions) beforehand if deemed possible,” said Lee Ki-il, first quarantine control officer at the headquarters. “Vaccine pass, easing of social distancing and QR code check-in are all linked with each other.”
However, medical professionals warn that it would be premature to ease restrictions by citing ‘signs of growing risks’ including a rising number of confirmed cases in people aged 60 and older lately. As of 12 a.m. on Friday, the number of new Covid-19 cases in people aged 60 and older amounted to 6,096, a 4.7-fold increase from 1,290 people two weeks ago.
Confusion continues to flare up in many parts of Korean society after the transition of the quarantine system to respond to the spread of the omicron variant. The best example of a significant short supply of Covid-19 self-test kits. A vendor was selling a test kit from SD Biosensor at 31,200 won (26 US dollars) per kit on the online shopping site Coupang on the day. Since it would be sold for just 3,000 (2.51 dollars) to 5,000 won (4.18 dollars) apiece until mid-January, the price has thus jumped up to 10 folds. For this reason, the government will ban online sale of self-test kits and set the cap on their prices, effective on Sunday.