November 29, 2021 13:00
Korea's daily coronavirus death toll hovers above 50 while the number of severe cases keeps surging among the elderly and unvaccinated.
According to health authorities, 75 percent of all 1,154 ICU beds across the country were occupied on Saturday, and 85.4 percent of all 714 ICU beds in the capital region. The government planned to transfer some less severe cases from the capital to the provinces if beds run out, but now they too are filling up.
The number of critically ill COVID patients stood at 647 on Saturday, up 13 from a day earlier and an increase for the sixth day running. Fifty-fix patients died, up four from the previous day, when the number of deaths exceeded 50 for the first time.
Hospitals are complaining of too many patients to handle with the current scant provisions. A doctor at a general hospital in the capital region said, "The 85 percent occupancy rate means that hospital bed capacity has in fact already been surpassed."
He said intensive care of critically ill patients with other diseases is being put on the back burner because COVID patients are taking up medical manpower and hospital beds.
Amid a rapid surge of infections since Korea began a gradual return to normal in early November, a meeting chaired by President Moon Jae-in on Monday afternoon will come up with new quarantine measures but is unlikely to return to strict lockdown due to massive public fatigue.
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