Omicron Infections Surge After Slight Lockdown Relaxation

      January 24, 2022 09:37

      Korea reported 7,513 COVID-19 infection cases on Monday morning, hovering around 7,000 for a third day and twice as many as on Jan. 16.

      Daily infections are expected to rise if lockdown restrictions are lifted further because the Omicron variant, which is milder but more highly contagious, is becoming the dominant strain.

      Concerns are also mounting over a breakdown in administrative capacities as the government fumbles one surge after another.

      People wait to get tested for coronavirus in Seoul on Sunday. /Newsis

      But due to the relatively low rate of Omicron infections developing into serious illness, the occupancy rate of ICU hospital beds is expected to hover at only around 20 percent until mid-February. But health experts warn that the government is ill prepared to handle a possible surge in the cases who are ordered to isolate at home.

      If one person infected with the variant comes into contact with three people, four people on average end up in self-isolation. If daily Omicron cases rise to 50,000, around 200,000 people will have to self-isolate. Given a seven-day self-isolation period, around 1.4 million people may have to be sit at home doing nothing and seeing nobody.

      "It will be impossible to monitor and support 1.4 million people in self-isolation and track down others who came into contact with them," said Chung Jae-hoon at Gacheon University's Gil Medical Center.

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