We start with the COVID-19 situation in South Korea.
Not only have we seen a jump in the number of new infections on Wednesday, but also the highest-ever number of critically ill patients.
Yes, and that's why local authorities are on alert, figuring out ways to bring this number down before it starts to overburden the health system.
For the latest, we have Shin Ye-eun in studio. Good morning, Ye-eun.
Ye-eun, let's start with the number of daily cases we're expecting today. Another jump on the horizon?
Yes, Mok-yeon, because we've seen yet another jump from the number of cases reported as of 9pm on Wednesday.
2-thousand 1-hundred 40 infected.
This is up 76 from the day before.
So we're expecting to see the daily figure for Thursday be near the 25-hundreds.
An issue that's becoming more pressing is preventing the number of critically ill patients rising so quickly. Yesterday we saw an all-time high. What are the authorities saying?
Right, the number of critically ill patients hit 4-hundred 60 yesterday, the highest number we've ever seen.
Authorities insist that South Korea's health system can handle the uptickFOR NOW.
Take a listen to what the Prime Minister had to say.
“Several indices are worsening faster than we expected, including the number of critically-ill patients, fatalities, and the reproduction rate. It’s an uneasy situation. For now, our medical capacity is stable, but we cannot rule out a repeat of the critical situation we saw last year, given the rise in year-end gatherings along with seasonal factors.”
Authorities are urging senior citizens to get shotsand also boosters.
That's because these groups are at the highest risk.
"The fatality rate for people over 80 who haven't been vaccinated is as high as 14.71 percent. Once they get vaccinatedthis number drops to 3-point 4-6 percent. So we ask the elderly to get vaccinated and have boosters."
How has South Korea been administering boosters so far?
As of Tuesday more than 640-thousand people had received an extra jab.
This includes seniors over 60 and younger people working in the healthcare sector who were first in line to be vaccinated early this year.
Janssen recipients have also been eligible to get booster shots.
On Tuesday alone, nearly 100-thousand more people got an extra jab.
The number of booster shots administered on Tuesday, actually surpassed the number of first-dose inoculations during the same 24-hour span.
Authorities are still weighing the option of regular booster shots, but it's taking a wait-and-see approach for now to see what other countries do first.
Speaking of other countries Japan is going to start administering booster shots. How are they doing it? What are some of the similarities and differences we can note there?
Right, so Japan's health ministry on Wednesday gave the green light to booster shots using the Pfizer vaccine.
Similar to Korea, they will first administer these extra jabs to health workers from December.
A slight difference is that they might expand their target age group to every adult.
Once, they have more data on whether administering extra jabs to younger generations is safeJapan might bring the age bracket down even further.
Detailed guidelines will be revealed on Friday.
While booster shots may be a way to get the situation under control..some countries are taking much stricter measures to penalize those who break virus prevention measures.
Right. Take China for example.
It has taken a very aggressive approach to keep infections down.
In February, 2020, Chinese state-run media reported that a court in one of China's provinces published an urgent notice that said
anyone who spreads the virus intentionally and endangers public security would be subject to the death penalty if the situation is severe.
Those who spread false rumors about the pandemic could also face up to 15-years in jail, as well.
As of now, there isn't any specific statistics showing how many Chinese citizens have been found guilty for any of these crimes.
Nowhere near the death penalty, of course, but countries like the UK, Saudi Arabia and South Korea fine people who break quarantine.
Take Saudi Arabia, for instance.
It fines first-time offenders more than 53 thousand U.S. dollars or can impose up to a two-year jail sentence.
If China is taking such extreme steps, it makes you think Beijing is playing loose with the truth about how widespread the virus is there.
Thank you Ye-eun, we'll see you on Friday.