December 10, 2020 11:09
From now on anyone can be tested for coronavirus for free even if they have not come into contact with patients or have no symptoms.
Jeong Eun-kyeong, the chief of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, made the announcement during a virtual conference chaired by President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday.
She pledged to run makeshift test facilities in about 150 locations like popular hangouts for students and railway stations in the capital region during a three-week intensive testing period over the festive season. They will open until 9 p.m. on weekdays and six p.m. on weekends.
The announcement came a day after the government revealed that it has managed to maneuver itself to the back of the queue for coronavirus vaccines and Koreans may have to wait for another year before the epidemic here ends.
Until now, people without symptoms or those who had not come into contact with infected patients had to pay W160,000 per test (US$1=W1,086). The new policy will apply as long as infections remain over 100 a day.
In a press briefing later, Yoon Tae-ho, who heads a government taskforce tackling the epidemic, said the latest move is "preemptive and aggressive" to reduce infections from symptom-free and latent carriers.
The decision was made after the government sounded the alarm over daily infections reaching almost 700 as temperatures dropped.
"Currently, we are conducting about 40,000 tests at weekends and some 70,000 tests on weekdays," a KDCA spokesman said. "We expect to increase our testing capacity if we combine various testing techniques like pooled sample testing with the current PCR-based tests."
Korea reported 682 new cases as of Thursday morning, almost 700 for the second day in a row.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com