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S. Korean officials work to secure more ICU beds for COVID-19 patients Updated: 2021-11-19 10:04:48 KST

Our top story this hour, health authorities are working to expand the medical capacity in greater Seoul, as the region's healthcare system is feeling the strain of rising numbers of COVID-19 patients.
For more, we have our reporter Kim Yeon-seung on the line with us.
Yeon-seung, let's start with the numbers.
We've been seeing a rise in daily cases this week, right?

Yes Mok-yeon, after surpassing 3-thousand cases this Wednesday, the number of new cases has stayed above that mark for three days in a row.
Authorities on Friday reported 3,34 new infections.
In light of the hike in cases, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters said that they're once again running a special task force from next Monday.
They're going to comb through the capital region and inspect whether any establishments are not following the current prevention measures.
Also around 1-thousand health officials will be employed at schools, which will be back up and running in full from next Monday as well.

Now fill us in about the medical sector.
What are the health authorities doing to acquire more beds?

Mok-yeon, so ICU beds in the capital region are at over 78 percent capacity.
If the situation worsens, the region's healthcare system could be overwhelmed.
Responding to this crisis, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced that it has almost doubled the share of patients treated at home, in the past two months.
It has also brought in more than 500 staff to work in ICU wards, and appointed more hospitals to specialize in special diseases a move that will add up to 600 more beds.
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum met with directors of hospitals in the greater Seoul to discuss solutions.
Urgent patients will be redirected to whichever place that has more space, whether it's in the capital region or elsewhere in the country.
Once the patients recover, they will be moved to other beds more fit for their condition,.. so that the ICU beds can be saved for the people who need them the most.
Prime Minister Kim stressed the need to put the safety of the patients first and foremost.
He added that if we don't weather this storm, authorities might have to pull the brakes on the 'gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions,'
That's all I have for now, but I'll be back later with more updates.
Back to you, Mok-yeon
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