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COVID-19 to be managed like flu starting August 31

Posted August. 24, 2023 08:41,   

Updated August. 24, 2023 08:41


COVID-19, which is currently regarded as a second-degree infectious disease, will be managed as a fourth-degree one like influenza, beginning August 31. As a result, COVID-19 tests, which are currently free or only cost a small consultation fee, will be paid by individual patients, except for some high-risk groups, like medical bills for influenza.

“COVID-19 infections, which had been growing since the end of June, began to dwindle lately (to less than 50,000 cases),” said Ji Yeong-mi, the Commissioner of Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, on Wednesday.

“We decided to lower COVID-19 from a second-degree infectious disease to a fourth degree given that the risk posed by COVID-19 to healthy individuals was reduced to that of flu and that there is enough medical capacity to make proper responses.” The decision came 16 months after the infectious disease was categorized as second-degree in April last year.

Currently, the general public pays 5,100 won for a consultation fee when they visit a local clinic for COVID-19 symptoms and receive a rapid antigen test. This fee will increase to 20,000 to 50,000 won from August 31. As it is a non-benefit item, the cost will vary by medical institution. However, those aged above 60 or below 12 with existing conditions or weakened immune systems pay about 10,000 won for a test as part of the government’s efforts to protect high-risk groups.

Medicines and vaccines for COVID-19 will continue to be provided for free. The authorities announced that additional purchases of medicines will be made to prepare against infections in winter.