Friday, December 09, 2022

South Korea will lift most virus restrictions as Omicron slows down

Seoul, South Korea – South Korea will lift most pandemic restrictions, including indoor gathering limits, as it slowly exits an Omicron outbreak that officials say is stabilizing.

Health Minister Kwon Deo-cheol said at a government briefing on Friday that people would still need to wear masks indoors, but if the coronavirus slows further over the next two weeks, officials could lift an outdoor mask mandate. Huh.

Starting next week, officials will lift the 10-person limit on private social gatherings and lift a midnight curfew in restaurants, coffee shops and other indoor businesses. Officials will also lift restrictions on large political rallies and other events involving 300 or more people.

People will be allowed to eat inside cinema halls, religious places, bus terminals and train stations from April 25.

The new measures were announced as the country reported 125,846 new cases of the coronavirus, continuing the decline for a week after infections peaked in mid-March. The country’s one-day record stood at 621,187 on March 17.

While health workers reported 264 virus-related deaths in the latest 24 hours, more than half of the country’s 2,800 COVID-19 intensive care units remained available.

Kwon requested that people be vigilant against the virus, adding that if the pandemic brings another big wave of infections, officials will be forced to strengthen social distancing again.

He said given the fatigue and frustration of the people with the extended restrictions and the toll on the service sector economy, it has become difficult to prolong the social distancing rules. Son Yangre, another health ministry official, said social distancing measures have become less effective because Omicron is too contagious than previous variants of the virus to slow transmission.

Omicron has forced South Korea to abandon a stringent COVID-19 response based largely on laboratory tests, aggressive contact tracing and quarantines, focusing limited medical resources on high-risk groups, including Includes people 60 and older and people with pre-existing medical conditions.

From the end of May, authorities will remove the mandatory seven-day quarantine period for COVID-19 patients and allow them to receive treatment in hospitals and local clinics, just like with other illnesses.

The country had already eased quarantine restrictions and stopped requiring adults to show proof of vaccination or negative tests when entering potentially crowded places such as restaurants so that more public and health workers can increasingly use home remedies. be able to expand. More than 900,000 virus patients have been asked to isolate at home to save hospital space.

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