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S. Korea strengthens anti-virus measures to tackle latest surge Updated: 2021-12-03 10:47:07 KST

For more I have Choi Min-jung here in the studio.
Min-jung welcome.

Thank you for having me, Sunny.

Min-jung let's begin with the latest measures to better address the challenges here.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum introduced stricter anti-virus measures to tackle the latest surge.
Before we discuss the latest changes, let's take a listen to what he said.

"South Korea's gradual return to normal is now facing its most serious threat since the start of COVID-19. The number of daily cases exceeded 5,000 this week and 80 percent of our ICU beds nationwide are now occupied. The new Omicron variant also poses a growing risk. The government will focus on strengthening anti-virus measures for the next four weeks, shoring up blind spots in our gradual return to normal. In particular, we will focus on minimizing gatherings, close contact, and travel that may occur during the year-end period."

First of all, the government has lowered the cap on the number of people allowed to gather socially.
In the capital region, gatherings will be limited to six people - down from current 10.
In other regions outside the capital area, up to eight people will be allowed to meet.
As of now, as many as 12 can gather.

Vaccine passes will also now be required at restaurants and cafes.
And people going to museums, theaters, concerts as well as cram schools, will also have to show their proof of vaccination.
Currently, the passes are only required for access to venues like indoor sports facilities, bars, nightclubs, singing rooms, and public baths.
The new measures will take effect on Monday and will last for four weeks.
From February next year, teenagers will also have to present vaccine passes to enter designated venues.

And starting today new entry protocols are in place for all arrivals into the country?

That's right, Sunny. Starting on this Friday, all travelers arriving in South Korea will have to quarantine for ten days.
And this is regardless of their nationality or vaccination status.

People will be required to take three PCR tests as well.
This measure is aimed at blocking the additional inflow of the Omicron variant.
And it will be in place for the next two weeks.
However, those on essential travel, like corporate executives, athletes participating in the Winter Olympics, as well as high-ranking public officials, will be exempt from quarantine.

And what is the LATEST with regard to the LOCAL PRESENCE of OMICRON?

Right, on Thursday, I mentioned that there were a total of five confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.
But health authorities have confirmed an additional case, making it a total of six.

The son of a married couple who contracted the variant after returning from Nigeria, has also tested positive for the new strain.
We also know that the couple's friend was infected with the variant as well.
But what's worrying is that this person, was not initially classified as a close contact, because the couple had lied in their earlier testimony to contact-tracing officials.
The couple told the authorities that they had taken a taxi home, when it was later revealed that their friend had picked them up at the airport.
So for a couple of days, he went to work, restaurants and visited friends before getting his test result,
possibly exposing hundreds of people to the Omicron variant.
Authorities are now considering whether to take legal action against the couple.
On a more fortunate note however, of the five cases, four are asymptomatic cases, while one is reporting a mild fever.
So we have not seen any severe illnesses so far as a result of the new variant.

Right Min-jung.
Thank you for now.
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