April 02, 2021 12:49
Korea reported 558 new cases of coronavirus as of Friday morning as infections surge amid crumbling lockdown discipline. New cases have stood above 500 for three days running.
Group infections have been reported in the southern port city of Busan traced to bars, churches and private crammers. Busan now faces tougher lockdown rules from Friday.
Korea is still scrambling to secure vaccines. The scheduled arrival of AstraZeneca vaccine supplies, which was thought to have been delayed by three weeks, has been pushed forward again.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said, "Some of the AstraZeneca vaccine shipments whose delivery had been postponed until mid-April will arrive in March after all."
But the volume has decreased from 690,000 doses to 258,000 doses.
Another 297,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will arrive in late June through the WHO's COVAX Facility, and 6 million doses contracted directly with Pfizer will arrive in batches in April, May and June.
Health officials are also struggling to allay mounting public jitters over the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine. KCDA chief Jeong Eun-kyeong was publicly given her AstraZeneca injection on Thursday. She apologized for jumping the queue but said she decided to do so to encourage others.
"We urge people to take their injection when their turn comes around," she said. She said the threat of blood clots "is not serious enough to halt or change vaccination schedules."
Jeong's deputy Kwon Jun-wook said, "We are speeding up inoculations, but the number of new infection cases is embarrassingly high. Infections with variants have compounded by a spread of the virus, and this could undermine the effectiveness of vaccines."
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