Gov't Changes Game Plan as COVID Infections Surge

  • By Kim Kyung-eun

    January 25, 2022 12:29

    The government is changing its game plan from a zero-COVID strategy to containment of serious cases as daily infections approach 10,000.

    The government announced new quarantine guidelines on Monday aimed at coping with the spread of the Omicron variant, which is milder but more virulent than previous mutations.

    Starting Wednesday, fully vaccinated people will be exempt from self-quarantine even if they come into close contact with an infected person. Until now anyone who came into close contact with an infected person had to self-quarantine for 10 days.

    Also, self-quarantine for infected people will be shortened from 10 to seven days.

    Omicron now accounts for more than 50 percent of daily coronavirus cases, and coronavirus infections are surged to a record of 8,571 on Tuesday morning, while severe cases and deaths remained at similar numbers at 392 and 23, compared to 418 and 25 the previous day. 

    A medical worker prepares antigen test kits for coronavirus at a health clinic in Gwangju on Monday.

    Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said, "We earnestly ask people to refrain from visiting family and relatives during this Lunar New Year holiday. If you must visit your family, then we urge you to get your vaccine booster before departing and get tested before leaving."

    Due to the surge in infections, the number of PCR tests will be reduced. Until now, all suspected cases had to have PCR tests at testing centers, but from now on, only senior citizens, high-risk individuals or people who have been recommended by doctors to get swabbed must have PCR tests. People who simply suspect they may be infected can do a rapid antigen test at home first.

    The quarantine period will also change. Fully vaccinated people who received their second shot less than 90 days ago or got their booster more than 14 days ago and test positive for COVID-19 will be placed under a seven-day quarantine, while unvaccinated people who test positive will go into 10 days' quarantine.

    But fully vaccinated people who come into contact with an infected person can go about their lives as normal and only have to notify health officials if they display telltale symptoms, while unvaccinated people must self-isolate for seven days. 

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