Right now for the latest government remarks on the COVID-19 situation and efforts to ensure a productive exit strategy from the pandemic I have Soa back at the desk.
As we have shifted into the new "Living with COVID-19" scheme, the government's briefings will also look a little different. Rather than putting emphasis on the daily number of new cases, the focus will be on the number of patients that are in serious or critical condition, deaths, and medical capacity.
Based on that, Park Hyang, an official at the health ministry started the earlier COVID-19 briefing by sharing figures of hospital beds available for critically-ill patients, with close to 55 percent vacant as of this Monday.
Some 59 percent of beds at residential treatment centers are available, while over 2,800 patients are recovering at home.
There has been a slight drop in the number of people in serious or critical condition in the past week, as of October 24th, but the number stands at above 300 for the fifth straight week, with over 74 percent of them being people in their sixties or above.
The number of people who died in the span of the same week stood at 85, a drop from 101 the week before.
Also, as the number of people with mild symptoms is expected to go up, authorities are looking to make home treatment more effective, let's take a listen.
“We are making some minute (MY-NEWT) adjustments to our guidelines regarding the age requirements for home treatment. When it comes to other factors like vaccination, we will be working closely with medical staff in deciding whether a patient should be treated at home or be transferred to a hospital… following an examination. The patient’s living environment will also factor into our decision."
Medical capacity is stable for now but Soa officials have been observing an uptick in daily infections over the past week?
Right, we are entering the new scheme, with quite concerning figures, with a spike in cases attributed to the following.
"We believe the easing of restrictions, the anticipation of a return to normal, and the fact that more people are gathering in poorly-ventilated, indoor space amid the drop in temperatures have all contributed to the rebound in cases. This is seen to be a large outbreak when considering the fact that fully-vaccinated people greatly outnumber those who haven't been vaccinated with the latter comprising the majority of recent cases."
According to government data, Korea posted an increase by some 28 percent in COVID-19 cases last week, compared to the previous week. Also, the reproduction rate of the virus, has been going up, standing at 1.03, as of late, while it was standing below 1 for the previous three weeks. A number above 1 translates into a rising trend. While looking forward to the gradual return to normalcy, officials reminded the public that individual compliance to hygiene measures and basic guidelines like mask-wearing will play a big factor in the infection figures from hereon.
Also Soa I understand there has been a grim forecast about a potential SURGE in daily infections amid our first steps out of the pandemic?
Right, the government has been refraining from making such predictions, it was rather health experts who made those, but , a senior health ministry official made that comment on a radio show earlier in the morning, also saying that at around 5,000 daily cases, medical capacity would be strained. But what he also made clear at a following government briefing, was this.
"Whether we have 5-thousand or even 10-thousand daily infections, the important figures that we need to focus on… are the distribution of the cases between the fully-vaccinated and the unvaccinated,… and also the number of infections among the elderly."