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S. Korean officials work to secure more ICU beds for COVID-19 patients as capital region nears crisis Updated: 2021-11-19 10:10:04 KST

Soa thank you for those numbers.
Let's now get a better picture of the situation here on the local front with our Kim YEON-SEUNG .

Thank you for having me Sunhee

So the Greater Seoul area is feeling the STRAIN of SOARING caseloads?

Yes that's right, Sunhee the beds are filling up rather quickly.
As of now, ICU beds in the Seoul capital region are more than 78 percent full
This figure has been rising by one to two percentage points per day.
More than 400 patients in greater Seoul were left waiting for their beds on Thursday.
Hospitals specialized in infectious diseases are also nearing their limits with more than three-quarters filled in greater Seoul and over 60 percent full in other regions.
Now, as we move forward with the gradual easing of restrictions, it's absolutely imperative that the healthcare sector is capable of handling the growing number of COVID patients and critical cases.
Although regions outside the capital still have some headroom, the greater Seoul area appears to be on the verge of overcapacity.

And what has been the response from health authorities?

Yes, well officials are tackling the issue from all angles.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare made an announcement Friday morning on some of the measures they were taking.
So first, they've almost doubled the allocation of home treatment, in the past two months.
They're also designating more hospitals specialized in infectious diseases, a move that will add up to 600 more beds.
Under the previously-issued administrative order, officials are currently working to secure some 1-thousand beds.
But as I mentioned in my previous reporting, even with the extra beds,.. there needs to be enough medical staff on site to handle the growing number of patients.
Here's more from Korea's health minister.

"We are currently in the process of securing 1,312 more medical staff, and we've already found 505 more people who can start working immediately in ICU units. "

Authorities are also zeroing in on care centers and nursing homes, where many cluster infections have occurred.
Care workers at these facilities in the capital region will be required get tested twice a week, and visitations will not be allowed.
Workers and in-patients at nursing hospitals are also eligible to get their booster shots four months after their primary doses.

Essentially authorities are doing all they can to contain the latest situation while at the same time allow for a transition into a new normal?

Right, of course.
They seem eager as anybody else to really move forward with the easing of measures.
There was also a special request from the Blue House Thursday afternoon, with President Moon Jae-in urging government officials to stabilize the situation.
He asked them to take special care so that everything runs smoothly, from the fast-tracked booster campaign to the securing of extra ICU beds.
He asked the nation's people to stay calm, and follow the government's prevention guidelines and the recommended dates for vaccinations.
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 easing steps ahead of South Korea.

Thank you for that report,.. but do stay with us with our broader talks.
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