Daily Infections Remain High

  • By Bae Jun-yong, Lee Joon-woo

    April 15, 2021 11:14

    Daily coronavirus infections remain high at around 700 a day amid fears that the current lockdown needs to be tightened as long as the country's vaccination drive lags woefully behind the rest of the world.

    The daily tally of new coronavirus infections stood at 698 on Thursday morning, after 731 cases the previous day, the biggest increase since 869 new cases were found on Jan. 7.

    Health and Welfare Minister Kwon Deok-cheol said, "The situation requires us to consider tightening lockdown and shortening business operating hours." But the minister added the measures will be a "last resort" given widespread lockdown fatigue.

    Any tougher lockdown could be hard to enforce. The number of people traveling to different parts of the country increased 14.6 percent last weekend compared to the previous week.

    An alley in Jongno, Seoul is bustling with people on Wednesday. /Yonhap

    Health experts said the government needs to come up with a new approach. Choi Jae-wook, a professor at Korea University, said, "We need to let businesses and schools conduct their own COVID-19 tests so they can detect asymptomatic carriers."

    Others said the current situation requires a "circuit breaker" in the form of a short total lockdown.

    But the biggest problem is the glacially slow process in vaccinations. Kim Woo-joo at Korea University Guro Hospital said, "Vaccination is the most effective way to fight the virus, but the government keeps refusing to admit the shortage of vaccines and insisting that herd immunity will be achieved by November. But that goal seems unachievable unless the president does something drastic like directly asking the U.S. for more vaccines."

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