November 04, 2021 11:16
Infections have surged as Korea begins to learn to live with coronavirus.
Some 2,667 people tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, the day after the country's phased return to normal officially began and the first time daily new cases increased by more than 1,000 since the coronavirus pandemic started early last year. Another 2,482 cases were reported as of Thursday morning.
The surge took the government by surprise. Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said, "We had expected a certain increase in new infections if we started a return to normal, but I'm losing sleep at the sudden rise in new cases that occurred in just a couple of days. If our hard-won achievements in the fight against COVID-19 fall apart only after a few steps, the return to normal we hoped for is still a long way off."
Authorities attributed the surge to eased restrictions on gatherings, fading immunity from early vaccinations and the cold weather that is keeping people indoors.
Most of the newly infected are vulnerable people like unvaccinated people and the elderly. Of the new infections that occurred on Tuesday, 662 or 24.8 percent occurred among youngsters, who have mostly not been vaccinated, and 760 or 28.5 percent among the over-60s. New cases among the over-60s have been on the rise for four weeks.
Health authorities decided to let residents and staff of nursing homes and geriatric hospitals to get their booster shots five months after their second jab instead of six, but they are not considering bringing booster jabs forward for all elderly people.
Among the young, only 47.8 percent of those aged 16-17 had been given their first shot and a mere 28.4 percent of those aged 12-15 have booked their jabs.
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