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Back to normalcy after 757 days

Posted April. 16, 2022 07:26,   

Updated April. 16, 2022 07:26


South Korean will lift all COVID-19 social distancing measures, except for a mask mandate, from Monday. The 12 a.m. business curfew on multi-use facilities will be lifted, and limits on private gatherings, events and rallies will also be removed. The country is going back to normalcy 757 days after the social distancing measures were put in place.

The lifting of all social distancing measures, which was a symbol of high-level quarantine, is a sign that the country is finally getting out of the long tunnel of COVID-19. A mask mandate will be maintained, but in two weeks starting from outdoor areas, it is also expected to be lifted depending on the situation. Other regulations, such as self-isolation, will be also lifted in order from next month. Expectations are growing that the end of the pandemic in sight after two years.

But this is not the end. The possibility that there will emerge a new variant that will attack the humankind remains open. Experts warn that variants, such as Delta and Omicron that have continued to mutate every five to six months, can spread again at any time. The spread of COVID-19 is not showing signs of slowing down in China. Even after the end of COVID-19, there can be an emergence of a new virus that will lead to even more severe pandemic.

It is also necessary to carefully review the problems emerged in tackling the pandemic so far. Until recently, the government failed to accurately predict the peak of the Omicron variant. It resulted in more confusion in the medical sector, leading to shortages of medicines and funeral spaces. Due to an immature early response, there were insufficient supply of masks and vaccines in the beginning of the pandemic. The government should review all these problems, reflect them in its health and medical policies, and reorganize the quarantine system step by step. In addition, it should speed up research and development of vaccines and medicines.

Apart from the lifting of social distancing measures, individuals should continue to thoroughly exercise self-quarantine. Although it is on the decline, the number of severely-ill COVID-19 patients is still around 1,000. The risk of infection is still high for the elderly and those with underlying diseases. Quarantine and medical staff, who are suffering from accumulated fatigue, need time to recharge so that they can respond to future crises. It is time for us all to catch our breath in the face of these challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.