We start with the latest on the coronavirus situation in South Korea.
The country is seeing an uptick in cases ahead of eased restrictions set to kick in from next week.
And potentially making matters worse,. Korea's notoriously cold winter is steadily closing in.
For more on this and other COVID-19 related updates,.. joining us live in the studio is our reporter Choi Min-jung, good afternoon.
Let's start with Thursday's daily figures. Are we seeing a big jump today?
Yes, South Korea surpassed the 2-thousand mark for the first time in almost three weeks.
The exact figure stands at 2-thousand 1-hundred 11.
Officials say the recent spike is mostly due to eased restrictions on social gatherings, which started last Monday, and with more people becoming more complacent in regards to prevention measures.
Authorities also revealed that nearly 100-percent of variant cases last week were the Delta variant.
On top of this, South Korea saw almost 20,000 breakthrough infections.
This is equal to point-zero-seven-four percent of fully vaccinated people.
Most were in their 30s, and those who received the Janssen vaccine.
We also hear South Korea's health authorities are on alert not only because of the easing of restrictions but also for numerous other reasons.
There are growing concerns over a potential uptick in cases this week.
It's almost November so we are approaching winter,.. which health experts say causes the virus to spread much more easily than it can in warmer weather.
On top of that, there's the upcoming flu season so authorities are not letting their guard slip.
Let's take a listen.
"COVID-19 and influenza are respiratory viral diseases with similar symptoms. When a patient with a fever visits the hospital during the winter, it's more difficult to differentiate the viruses. We ask the public to actively participate by getting vaccinated against influenza as well."
And there's a third factor: Halloween. It's a time when many young people go out to mingle with friends and let their hair down.
Given the various circumstances at play right now, it seems crucial the country re-up its vaccination efforts. How's that going?
Right, the government will announce plans to expand booster shots this afternoon.
They will likely address plans to give booster shots to those who received the Janssen vaccine.
As I touched upon before, they currently the group that are most vulnerable to breakthrough infections.
They are also expected to talk about whether the Janssen and Moderna vaccines will be added as booster vaccines.
Right now, only Pfizer's vaccine is being used as a booster shot for medical workers and seniors above 60 who received their last shot more than 6 months ago.
The country is also pressing ahead with vaccinating teenagers.
For teenagers 16 to 17, more than 62-percent have reserved shots,.. and 28-percent have received their first doses.
For those between 12 and 15, just under a quarter have made reservations.
As of now, the country is not reviewing vaccinations for kids under 12.
Authorities have said that it will make a decision after thoroughly examining data and as well as necessity, once approved by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.
Ok, so that's vaccinations covered. Let's talk about the potential COVID-19 treatments coming on the market.
Sure, the government will soon sign a contract to purchase enough oral COVID-19 treatment courses for 400-thousand people.
This is ten times more than was originally planned.
The government has been negotiating with overseas pharmaceutical companies with the aim of bringing in the oral treatments early next year.
The details will likely be announced on Friday.
Currently, Merck is waiting for approval for its oral antiviral treatment, "Molnupiravir". from regulators in the U.S. and Europe.
The company has also decided to share licensing for the treatment with a UN-backed non-profit organization, to allow more companies to manufacture generic versions.
The licensing agreement is expected to expand access in more than 1-hundred countries.
Well that is a rare sign of generousity from a big pharmaceutical firm so hats off to Merck. Min-jung, great job on your report. We got all the bases covered and I'll see you again for our tomorrow's news cast. Thanks again.