Go to contents

Seoul plans to reduce the number of quarantine facilities

Seoul plans to reduce the number of quarantine facilities

Posted April. 09, 2022 07:26,   

Updated April. 09, 2022 07:26


As South Korea’s new COVID-19 cases are on a downward trend, the government has come up with “post-omicron” measures, gradually reducing the number of hospital beds secured for COVID-19 patients and scaling back residential treatment centers and screening stations.

The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters said on Friday that it plans to gradually cut hospital beds for COVID-19 patients with moderate severity by 7,000 and scale back residential treatment centers. As of Friday, there were a total of 24,618 hospital beds for COVID-19 patients with moderate severity in operation across the country, with a utilization rate of only 35 percent.

From Monday, rapid antigen tests will not be conducted at screening stations. Seniors over the age of 60 can still take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test at screening stations, but those under the age of 60 can get a COVID-19 test only at local hospitals and clinics. Health authorities are considering whether to allow eating and drinking in the seats at indoor sports stadiums, such as the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul.

With health authorities seeking to return the medical treatment system to normalcy, the National Medical Center (NMC) held a press conference on Friday and called for restoring the functions of public medical institutions, which have operated under emergency conditions for the past two years. According to NMC, the number of inpatients and outpatients dropped by an average of 25.5 percent and 31.6 percent, respectively, in 2020 compared to the previous year after public medical institutions across the country have transformed into hospitals dedicated to infectious diseases. Cho Seung-yeon, the president of the Korea Association of Regional Public Hospital, said the local public health care system is in the verge of collapse as the existing medical staff is leaving the hospitals.

The country’s cumulative number of confirmed cases is expected to surpass 15 million as of 12 a.m. on Saturday. About 5 million have been added to the total number in 17 days after the country’s confirmed cases surpassed 10 million on March 23. The number of new COVID-19 deaths stood at 373 as of 12 a.m. on Friday, exceeding the 300 mark for the third day in a row. Although the number of new confirmed cases is on the decline, the number of severe cases and deaths are not decreasing. “The number of daily COVID-19 deaths will exceed 300 for the next one or two weeks,” said Dr. Lee Jae-gap, a professor of infectious diseases at Hallym University Medical Center.

easy@donga.com · asap@donga.com