November 30, 2021 09:09
The government on Monday revised quarantine regulations as a surge in coronavirus infections has pushed Korea's medical system to the limit.
All patients who test positive will have to self-isolate at home from Dec. 20 while hospital beds will be primarily allocated to patients who pose an infection risk to those around them or children and senior citizens.
The government will also make boosters shots available for more people and vaccine passes will be valid for only six months.
"In a four-week assessment, the country has been found to be at high risk of coronavirus infections," Health and Welfare Minister Kwon Deok-chul told reporters. "Infections are rising among the elderly, while the number of severe cases is surging, pushing hospitals to breaking point."
But the government made clear that it will not halt the phased return to normal. President Moon Jae-in said, "We cannot reverse the phased return to normal and retreat to the past."
There will be no new limits on gatherings or other restrictions nor an attempt to increase the number of dedicated ICU beds from the sparse 800 or so currently set aside.
Booster shots will be made available for everyone over the age of 18 who had their last jab at least five months ago. That means even fully vaccinated people who have not had their booster shots will be barred from multi-use facilities.
On Tuesday morning, the daily tally of new coronavirus infections stood at 3,032 with 661 severe cases.
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