August 27, 2020 10:51
Doctors across the country started a three-day strike on Wednesday that brought medical services to a screeching halt.
Large hospitals drastically reduced surgeries and out-patient services while smaller clinics closed down.
Doctors are protesting against government plans to increase the student quota at medical schools and other medical reforms they consider wrong-headed.
Most doctors at large hospitals including Seoul National University Hospital, Yonsei University's Severance Hospital and Samsung Medical Center took part in the strike. Severance Hospital informed patients on Monday that only cancer patients will receive treatment until the end of this month.
"As most residents and interns and some full-time doctors are taking part in the strike, we could only make up for some shortfalls with the help of medical professors, but reducing treatments is unavoidable," a Severance staffer said.
At SNU Hospital, most interns, residents and full-time doctors are also striking, causing surgeries to dwindle from 120-130 to less than 60. Samsung Medical Center has postponed more than 100 scheduled operations since Monday.
With an increase in patients in emergency rooms, some large hospitals told patients with only light symptoms to go to other hospitals. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, 11 percent of 32,787 clinics across the country closed down temporarily at noon Wednesday.
But health officials said there was no significant disruption to coronavirus testing and treatment. Some 618 out of 620 coronavirus screening centers across the country were operating as usual on Wednesday, with the exception one in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province and one in Seoul.
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