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ICU Beds in Greater Seoul Area Over 75% Capacity: Should We Trigger Circuit-Breaker? Updated: 2021-11-15 17:54:56 KST

Two weeks into South Korea's gradual transition to "living with Covid" scheme, the number of critically ill patients in intensive care is inching closer to the health authorities' threshold.
What's even more worrisome is that over 82-percent are over the age of 60 raising concerns about the increasing trend of elderly people becoming severely ill with COVID-19.
The number of critically ill patients has shown a steady growth since the start of November when the country began shifting toward normalcy with eased restrictions on operating hour limits and social gatherings.
Are we safe to stay on this "living with Covid" path?
Let's talk about it with our go-to medical expert, Dr. Alice Tan.

The government previously said reaching a 75 percent ICU bed occupancy rate would be one of the standards for putting a stop to its "living with COVID-19" plans and bringing back curfews and toughening social gathering guidelines - in essence, trigger a circuit breaker.
That rate in the greater capital area hit 76.4 percent as of 5 pm yesterday yet the authorities haven't enforced an emergency response plan. Should we be triggering a circuit breaker at this point?

We've seen various forms of "circuit-breakers" in other countries one in South Australia where they just entered a six-day lockdown to try to curb an outbreak, its first in six months Israel used a circuit-breaker in October after its "traffic-light" system did not get infections under control and New Zealand had a temporary lockdown.
What were their threshold to kick in their "circuit-breakers"?

What should be South Korea's marker point to halt the living with Covid phase and bring back curfews and toughen social gathering guidelines? Are they daily infection numbers, the R naught, the number of critically-ill, or death rate?

Why are we seeing such an increase in the number of both new daily infections and critically ill patients when the nation's vaccination rate stands at above 80-percent and continues to rise?

So, when will we be able to finally return to normal without having to worry about another surge in cases? What will it take?

Dr. Alice Tan, thanks as always for your insights.

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