Accumulated COVID-19 Cases Surpass 2 Million in Korea

      February 21, 2022 10:41

      Over 2 million Koreans have contracted COVID-19 in the two years and one month since the pandemic started here on Jan. 20, 2020, but it took only two weeks for the total to jump from 1 million to 2 million.

      The daily tally of infections stood at 95,362 as of Monday morning, dropping below 100,000 after four days, but severe cases increased from 385 to 480.

      The number of patients in self-isolation reached 450,493 as of early Sunday morning, more than doubling in just a week since it hit 200,000 on Feb. 14 as the milder but more infectious Omicron variant spreads rapidly.

      People wait to get tested for coronavirus in Seoul on Sunday. /Newsis

      But the actual number of cases could be three to four times higher, some experts claim.

      Hospitals are showing the strain as more medical staff are being infected. "Ten to 20 infections a day occur among medical staff in midsize general hospitals and about 50 at bigger university hospitals," said Lee Jae-gap of Hallym University Kangnam Sacred Heart Hospital. "The medical system is weakening not because of a flurry of severe cases, but because of a wave of infections among medical staff."

      Inpatients with other diseases and in ICU beds are also vulnerable to infection. "The bigger hospitals are, the more staff and patients they have, and that means there are more infections within hospitals, playing havoc with their capacity to respond to outpatients," said Prof. Kim Tak of Soonchunhyang University Hospital in Bucheon. 

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