SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea appears to be winning the fight against the corona virus: it has stepped up its testing, communication-tracking and isolation efforts in the face of an initial explosion without the economic pain of locking up. But a deadly upsurge in Christmas week has reached new heights, prompting the soul to search for how the country slept through a crisis.
There was a daily increase of 1,241 infections on Christmas Day. A further 1,132 cases were reported on Saturday, bringing South Korea’s case to 55,902.
More than 15,000 people were added in the last 15 days alone. An additional 221 deaths during the same period, the worst stretch, with a death toll of 793.
As the number continues to rise, the shock to the people’s livelihoods deepens and erodes public confidence in the government. After weeks of opposition, authorities may decide to increase social distance operations to a maximum on Sunday.
Strict restrictions are inevitable because kidnappings are outpacing efforts to expand the hospital’s capabilities.
In much of Seoul, more facilities have been designated for COVID-19 treatment, and dozens of public hospitals have been ordered to assign more ICUs to viral patients. Hundreds of troops have been deployed to help track the deal.
At least four patients have died in their homes or long-term care facilities while waiting for admission this month, said Kwok Jin, an official with the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Organization. Of the 16,577 active patients, 299 were in critical or critical condition, the company said.
Choi Won-sook, an infectious disease professor at Anson Hospital, University of Korea, west of Seoul, said: “Our hospital system is not going to collapse, but the smash of Kovit-19 patients has significantly blocked our response.
Choi said the government should have done more to prepare hospitals for the winter uprising.
“We have patients with all sorts of serious illnesses in our ICUs and they can’t share any space with Covit-19 patients, so it’s difficult,” Choi said. “These are the medical staff who have been fighting the virus for months. There is an accumulation of fatigue.”
Critics say President Moon Jae-in’s government has been content to restrict much control this spring, centered in the southeastern city of Daegu.
While vaccines are at least months away, the past few weeks have underscored the risks of putting economic concerns before public health. In October, authorities lowered social exclusion rules to a minimum and allowed high-risk areas such as clubs and karaoke rooms to reopen, although experts warned that the virus would spread when people spend more time indoors in the winter.
Jaihun Jung, a professor of preventive medicine at Kutch University Medical College in Incheon, said he expects infections to gradually slow down over the next two weeks.
The quiet streets and long lines around the checkpoints in Seoul offer temporarily free trials to anyone, regardless of whether they have symptoms or obvious reasons to suspect an infection, and have been raising public awareness following the outbreak for months.
Authorities are restricting private community gatherings until January 3, closing down ski resorts, banning the sale of more than half of the rooms in hotels, and imposing fines on restaurants for accepting groups of five or more people.
However, Jung said a reduction of 100 to 200 per day as seen in early November would be unreliable, with the daily number expected to settle between 300 and 500 cases.
High-level social exclusion may be necessary until the vaccines are out – a terrible sight for low-income workers and the self-employed who run the country’s service sector, a part of the economy is so badly damaged by the virus.
“The government should do anything to get enough supplies and move the administration of vaccines to an early stage,” Jung said.
South Korea plans to receive about 86 million doses of the vaccine next year, which will be enough to cover 46 million of the 51 million population. The first products of the Astrogenene vaccine, manufactured by a local production partner, are expected to be delivered in February and March. Authorities plan to finish vaccinating 60% to 70% of the population by November.
It is disappointing that the footage did not come soon, although despite officials insisting that South Korea could buy the wait-and-see approach, its eruption was not as bad as in the United States or Europe.
MERS, which erupted in 2015, may have attributed South Korea’s previous success to its experience in the war caused by the Middle East respiratory syndrome, a different corona virus.
After South Korea reported its first COVID-19 patient on January 20, KDCA quickly realized the importance of mass testing and expedited an approval process, with private companies producing millions of tests in a matter of weeks.
As infections increased in the Daegu region in February and March, health officials were able to control the situation by April after actively mobilizing technology to detect contacts and implement isolations.
But that victory was also a product of luck – most of the epidemics in Daegu were linked to the same church. Health workers are now having a very difficult time monitoring smuggling in the populated capital area, where clusters are forming everywhere.
South Korea has so far dealt with its explosions without locks, but a decision to raise remote controls to a very high “tier-3” on Sunday could shut down hundreds of thousands of essential businesses across the country.
Yu Yoon-sun said it could be much better, having difficulty paying rent for the three small music training academies he runs in Incheon and Xiheng, near Seoul, amid student shortages and strikes.
“Parents will send their children to piano lessons if the exchanges do not slow down quickly and decisively,” he said.
Yu also feels that the government’s neutral approach to social distance, which targets specific business activities while keeping a large part of the economy open, has placed an unreasonable financial burden on businesses like its own.
“Whether it’s training in academies, gyms, yoga classes or karaoke, the same businesses suffer again and again,” he said. “How long can we go?”