Gov't Mulls Easing Small-Business Lockdown

  • By Kim Sung-mo, Choi Eun-kyung

    January 15, 2021 12:29

    Gathering of more than five people will remain banned even if the current lockdown ends this weekend. But the government is minded to ease restrictions on restaurants and gyms so they can open after 9 p.m.

    "We think it may be difficult to ease social distancing rules and restrictions on gatherings anytime soon as they're key points in the quarantine measures," said Yoon Tae-ho at the Ministry of Health and Welfare on Thursday.

    The ministry believes it has been able to rein in infections thanks to the ban on gatherings, so some officials are calling for the current lockdown to be extended for another week and others until the Lunar New Year next month.

    According to health authorities, one coronavirus patient potentially spread the virus to 1.28 people between the third and fourth week of last December, but the rate decreased to 0.88 people from Jan. 3 to 10 when the gathering ban kicked in.

    A traveler in protective gear arrives at Incheon International Airport on Thursday. /Newsis

    The government is considering allowing coffee shops, public libraries and other local facilities to open again. After gathering the opinions of government agencies, municipalities and businesses, the government will announce new quarantine rules on Saturday.

    Meanwhile, health authorities released an interim report on the aftereffects of coronavirus based on studies by the Korea National Institute of Health and the National Medical Center. It is the first report based on a trimonthly survey of 40 adult patients.

    Many still suffered from hair loss and shortness of breath about three months after they had recovered. Lung inflammation had improved significantly six months later, but some suffered pulmonary fibrosis which can cause the scarring and hardening of lung tissue.

    "Most also suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder," a government official said. "We'll continue to study and monitor the situation in other countries."

    Meanwhile, Korea reported 513 new coronavirus cases as of Thursday morning, below 600 for four days in a row.

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