January 19, 2022 12:35
Daily COVID-19 infections have surpassed 5,000 again due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. The number was on the decline over the last month as the government imposed a fresh lockdown last month.
On Wednesday morning, Korea registered 5,805 new cases, up from 4,071 the previous day. The main culprit seems to be the more transmissible but milder Omicron variant.
Last week, 26.7 percent of total infections were the Omicron variant. Health officials have warned that the variant could account for more than 50 percent of all coronavirus infections by around Friday and daily cases surge to 30,000 by late February.
Health officials fear the virus will spread quickly among teenagers and children, many of whom have not yet been vaccinated. This is why the government insists on pushing ahead with a vaccine pass mandate for teenagers starting on March 1 despite a court ruling that halted it citing "excessive restrictions." It said it will appeal.
The vaccination rate among youngsters aged 12 to 19 stands at 62.9 percent.
In order to allay jitters among youngsters and encourage vaccination, the Education Ministry also said it will provide up to W5 million in medical fees to teens who show severe side effects to coronavirus vaccines (US$1=W1,192).
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