S. Korean 'Living with COVID-19' plan to first focus on revitalizing hardest-hit local businesses
Updated: 2021-10-22 09:45:11 KST
We start with the latest on the coronavirus situation in South Korea.
We'll take a look at South Korea's progress in tackling the virus and discuss the situation around the rest of the world. To give us the latest news, we have our COVID-19 correspondent, Yeon-seung here with us in studio.
Thank you for having me.
So let's start with the numbers.
How is Friday looking?
Well, I do have some good news Mok-yeon.
Today's figure is the lowest for a Friday that's been reported in South Korea in 14 weeks.
South Korean health authorities saw 1,440 new COVID-19 cases Friday, so very close to what we saw yesterday.
As for vaccinations, the latest reported rate stood at 68.2 percent in terms of people who are fully vaccinated, and Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum says that South Korea will reach 70 percent by tomorrow at the earliest.
Health authorities are giving that last extra push for vaccinations to reach that milestone.
So for people who've missed their dates for their second dose, it's now possible for them to just head over to their nearest vaccination center and get the jab on the same day.
They just need to check to see if the center has any leftover doses, and they're good to go.
So relatively good news all around then.
How is the "Living with COVID-19" scheme in South Korea coming along?
Well, until now, details of this scheme were cloaked in mystery.
But Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum gave some hints earlier today about what that plan is going to look like.
He said that they'll start by loosening up restrictions for businesses that have taken the biggest hit from COVID-19, and those that have a relatively low risk of infection.
He has yet to specify what he means when he refers to those businesses, but we can infer that this plan is going to focus on small and local businesses, as well as those in the travel or cultural sectors.
More details are to be announced during the public hearing next Monday.
But he also says that now is not the time to rush into hasty action.
Take a listen.
"When we see the experiences of other countries.. it's clear that this situation is a "moment of crisis with hope." It's a challenging task we have to prepare meticulously. We have to carefully take it step-by-step as we head down this unknown path."
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The Prime Minister mentioned the experiences of other countries.
What does he mean by that?
Well, some countries that have already pressed ahead with a "Living with COVID-19" plan have been seeing a recent surge in cases.
UK cases topped 50-thousand for the first time in three months.
The surge there was partly fueled by a newly identified variant.
This new variant has spun off from Delta, and it's sparking concern over whether this strain is more transmissible and more unresponsive to the vaccines than Delta is.
This variant has also been found in Israel as well.
Russia and Singapore are also seeing record deaths and cases.
However, COVID-19 cases worldwide have actually been on the decline for the last seven weeks.
The World Health Organization's emergency director Mike Ryan said on Thursday the surge witnessed in many European countries may be attributed to the eased COVID-19 restrictions and increased indoor social mixing.
I can imagine these surges in cases are really taking a toll on those countries' frontline healthcare workers.
You're absolutely right, Mok-yeon.
The WHO estimates that this virus could have killed 80 to 180-thousand healthcare workers between January last year and May of 2021.
Along with this figure, the WHO highlighted the growing vaccine discrepancy between low and high-income countries.
Eight in 10 healthcare workers have been vaccinated in high-income countries, compared to fewer than one in 10 in Africa.
A senior WHO official warned this could cause the pandemic to drag into next year, and it's imperative that vaccines are evenly distributed to health workers in low-income countries as well.