November 23, 2021 09:16
Health authorities raised COVID-19 risk alert for the capital region to "very high" on Monday since Korea started a phased return to normal. Across the country the alert remains "high."
Health authorities said the current high alert will continue for the time being as various risk indicators like occupancy rates of ICU beds, number of severe cases, and infections among the over-60s, are deteriorating.
The ICU bed occupancy rate in the Seoul metropolitan region stands at over 80 percent, while over 900 patients were waiting for hospital beds to become available as of Monday.
One decision the government needs to make is how long vaccine passports will be valid for now that it is becoming clear that vaccines offer less protection than hoped.
Jeong Eun-kyeong, the chief of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, said, "Some foreign countries are making vaccine passes valid for the six to nine months for which immunity lasts."
Authorities are also considering expanding the age limit of vaccine passports to under-18s because they are the second most vulnerable age group now after the over-60s.
The proportion of coronavirus patients under 18 has exceeded 20 percent since the third week of October, and children aged 13-15, whose vaccination rate is still low, are taking up the largest proportion of patients under 18.
On Tuesday morning, the daily tally of new infections stood at 2,699 with 549 severe cases.
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