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S. Korea expects to see Friday's caseload surpass 4,000; new social distancing guidelines to be announced Friday Updated: 2022-01-14 05:40:06 KST

We start with the COVID-19 situation.
South Korea is expected to see a jump in the number of cases for Friday,.. as the decline in infections gradually slows due to the quickening spread of Omicron.
The country is set to begin administering oral COVID-19 pills starting today, and new social distancing guidelines will also be announced.
For more on this, our reporter Choi Min-jung is in the studio.
Good morning, Min-jung.

Good morning.

Min-jung, let's start on the local front. How many cases are we forecast to see today?

Mok-yeon, we're expecting the daily tally to be higher than what was seen yesterday, once again going above the 4-thousand mark.
From midnight to 9 PM Thursday, South Korea reported very close to 4-thousand cases.

This is up by more than 5-hundred cases from the day before, and almost 7-hundred cases compared to a week ago.
Numbers have been declining for a while, with stronger social distancing measures and the nation's booster shot drive.
But it seems the decline is gradually slowing down due to the spread of the Omicron variant.
Officials are expecting to see a resurgence in cases with Omicron likely to become the dominant strain within the next week or two.

Imported cases continue to hit record highs and more people returning from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas have been confirmed to have the virus.

That's right Mark. The country has once again witnessed a record-breaking number of imported cases.

On Thursday, the country confirmed 3-hundred 91 cases from overseas.
South Korea also detected more COVID-19 infections from people returning from CES, which was held in Las Vegas.
As of Thursday, a total of 1-hundred 19 attendees were confirmed as positive for COVID-19.
According to authorities, Omicron infections have been identified in the pool.
And given that the variant represents around 98-percent of cases in the U.S., it's highly likely the majority of imports from CES are also Omicron.

And because the majority of OVERALL imported cases are the Omicron variant, authorities have decided to impose stricter quarantine measures for inbound travelers.
Starting January 20th, everyone arriving in South Korea must use quarantine buses, trains, and taxis specifically designated for those arriving from abroad.
This means these people will not be able to use public transportation.
But they will be allowed to use their own cars.
On top of that, those scheduled to arrive in Korea will be asked to submit a negative PCR test taken a maximum of 48 hours ahead of their departure date.
Currently, people are required to do this up to 72 hours before departure.

Right, tougher measures for inbound travelers. Min-jung, the first batch of oral COVID-19 treatments arrived in the country yesterday. Tell us more on what will be happening

Right Mok-yeon. Pfizer's pills arrived yesterday afternoon at Incheon Airport.
And they were delivered to a logistics center in Chungcheongbuk-do Province later in the day.

The initial batch is enough to treat 21-thousand people, and of this amount, 70-percent have been set aside for nationwide distribution.
The delivery began at around 2 AM today,.. to around 2-hundred 80 pharmacies as well as 89 residential treatment centers.
Facilities will most likely receive the treatments some time today.
And they're also bound to arrive on islands, like Jeju, by tomorrow.
The leftover 30-percent will be stored at the logistics center.
And they'll be supplied to regions that are in more need, perhaps in places that are seeing a surge in cases.

The treatments will be administered once they arrive at pharmacies and treatment centers, with priority given to those aged 65 and over,.. and people with weak immune systems.
When taking the pills, people should take three pills at a time, once in the morning and once in the evening.
They need to be taken for five days, regardless of how symptoms progress.

Updated social distancing measures will be announced in the coming hours. Do we know what to expect?

Right Mark. New social distancing measures are set to be announced soon.

We are expecting the measures to be relaxed to a certain extent,.. but it does seem too soon to expect a lot of easing back.
According to a government official, the authorities are considering increasing the number of people allowed for social gatherings from the current four, to six.
But most likely with business operations still limited to 9 PM.
These new measures will likely take effect for three weeks starting next Monday, considering the Lunar New Year holiday is coming up at the end of January.
However, sources say that the government will still leave room to strengthen measures any time, if the virus situation worsens due to Omicron.
The government is set to announce plans to tackle the variant,.. and ways to support small businesses today as well.


As always thanks for your report Min-jung and have a great weekend

Thanks for having me.
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