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S. Korean officials look for more ICU beds as capital region's healthcare sector near breaking point Updated: 2021-11-19 05:37:20 KST

Our top story this morning.
The healthcare system in the greater Seoul area is getting dangerously close to breaking point due to the spike in patients critically ill with COVID-19.
Health officials in South Korea say they are are all hands on deck to secure more ICU beds.

To fill us in with the latest COVID-19 updates, we have here with us our reporter Kim Yeon-seung.
Good morning, Yeon-seung

Good morning

So before we get into the overwhelmed healthcare sector, let's start with the numbers.
This week has seen quite a surge in cases.
Is that right?

Yes, that's right Mok-yeon.
Friday looks like being another day with somewhere around 3-thousand cases.
First, take a look at the past week's covid tally.
After recording 3-thousand cases this Wednesday for the first time in two months and for only the second time since the onset of the pandemic,daily COVID infections have stayed above the 3-thousand line for a couple of days now.
And with health authorities tallying almost 27-hundred cases up to last night, there's a high chance that Friday will start off somewhere near that 3-thousand mark.
The capital city of Seoul will likely see more than 14-hundred cases three days in a row,.. with authorities having traced 1,331 new cases on Thursday night.

Where are these infections mainly coming from?

Well, care hospitals and nursing homes have been one of the main hotbeds of the latest virus surge.
Currently, 36 care hospitals and two nursing homes that have seen infections within their premises are in cohort isolation, meaning the people in there are quarantined together as a group.
The 36 care hospitals have seen up to 1,880 infection cases in total in recent days.
Authorities say although it's not time to pull the brakes on the 'easing of COVID-19 restrictions' yet, they might zero in on these high-risk facilities and tweak the prevention measures in a way that could - put a cap on the source of the outbreak.

Now let's move on to a problem that the nation is facing a shortage of ICU beds in the capital region.
What's happening on that front?

The beds are filling up rather quickly.
As of now,.. ICU beds in the Seoul Capital region are more than 78 percent full going up almost one to two percentage points each day.
More than 400 patients in greater Seoul were waiting for their beds on Thursday.
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum is meeting with the directors of general hospitals in the capital region this morning to discuss this urgent issue and ways to expand health care capacity in the capital area.
The minstry of health and welfare is also due to make an announcement in a few hours to talk about their plan for securing more ICU beds.
There was a special message from the Blue House Thursday afternoon as well.
President Moon Jae-in urged government officials to work full force to stabilize the situation and asked them to take special care in acquiring the extra ICU beds.
He also added that the road back to normal,.. won't be an easy journey, especially judging by the situation in other countries that have taken this step ahead of South Korea.

What does he mean by countries that started this journey ahead of South Korea?
Did he mention any specific countries?

No he did not,.. but let me fill you in.
So,.. because most European countries started months ahead of South Korea in terms of COVID-19 vaccine rollouts, they were also earlier in easing the measures.
Many started implementing relaxed measures as early as this summer.
But things haven't been easy for them since.
Germany on Thursday, reported more than 65-thousand cases,.. breaking through the 60-thousand mark for the first time.
Germany's top health official warned that the country is in for a "very bad Christmas," if they don't tighten measures to dampen the spread.
Greece's healthcare sector has also been so overwhelmed with the surge in infection cases, that they had to call in doctors from the private sector to help out with the growing number of patients in public hospitals and intensive care wards.

Ok thank you for that report, and I'll be seeing you back at the studio next week?
Is that right?

Yes that's right, looking forward to it.
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