South Korean Prime Minister calls for calm after Covid cases soar by 70,000 in one day | South Korea

South Korea’s prime minister has called for calm after a record number of Covid-19 cases, amid warnings that the latest wave has yet to peak.

Kim Boo-kyum said severe cases and deaths were still at “manageable levels”, after health authorities reported 171,452 new infections on Wednesday, a sharp increase from 99,573 cases a day earlier and the previous all-time high of 109,831.

“While our awareness and implementation of anti-Covid rules should not be relaxed, there is no reason to fear or panic about the number of new cases as in the past,” said Kim, according to a transcript of a response to the pandemic. Meet.

His comments came after the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) cited data showing that people infected with the highly transmissible variant of Omicron were nearly 75% less likely to become seriously ill or die than those who contracted the Delta variant.

About 56% of the 1,073 people who died in a recent five-week period were either unvaccinated or had received only a single dose, a KDCA study showed, people aged 60 or over accounting for 94% of deaths.

More than 86% of South Korea’s 52 million people have been double-vaccinated and nearly 60% have received a booster shot.

On Wednesday, the government approved the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5 to 11.

With 2.3 million cases and about 7,600 deaths since the start of the pandemic, South Korea has fared better than many comparable countries, but the recent dramatic rise in infections is at odds with global trends.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the number of new Covid-19 cases worldwide had fallen 21% over the past week – the third consecutive week of declines – but added that infections continued to rise in the Western Pacific region. . South Korea is one of the five countries with the highest number of new infections, according to the WHO.

Experts have predicted the latest wave could peak at 270,000 infections a day early next month, around the time South Koreans elect a new president.

The administration of Moon Jae-in, whose single five-year term is about to end, has come under fire for easing targeted social distancing measures last week.

It partially eased restrictions by extending curfews for cafes and restaurants from one hour to 10 p.m., although it left unchanged the six-person cap for private gatherings and other measures, including mask mandates in public spaces.

Newspaper editorials have expressed concern over the sharp rise in the number of people being asked to recover at home to ease pressure on the country’s health services.

The Korea JoongAng Daily said deaths and serious cases could rise if more than half a million people recovering at home were “neglected”. “Home treatment can hardly be described as a cure, as most patients have to endure it without any prescription medication,” he said.

Kim said the remaining social distancing rules would not be relaxed until cases peaked. “The spread of Omicron is still at its peak, but once it is assured that serious cases and deaths can be stably managed, we will reform the general framework of our anti-virus quarantine policy, including social distancing. “, did he declare.

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