The MEDICAL BURDEN in the Greater Seoul area is reportedly nearing its capacity.
In fact authorities have raised their alert level for the area to "VERY HIGH".
KIM Yeon-seung joins me now to tell us what this means.
First off, I want to take you back to last week,.. to really give you the full picture of what this all means.
So last week, when the capital region's ICU beds first reached 75 percent capacity and there were more than 500 critically-ill patients nationwide,.. a lot of people had started to wonder, does it signify an end to our gradual lifting of restrictions?
You know, health authorities had previously warned that they were going to pull the plugs on the easing of measures if the healthcare system is at risk of being overwhelmed.
But authorities have continued to reassure people, that everything is still well under control, and that we can still move forward with the gradual easing of measures.
Authorities also announced last week some of the specific criteria they're going to take into account, in deciding whether changes are needed to their exit strategy.
They said they were going to look at 17 indices including the number of ICU beds filled and the basic reproduction number of the virus, conducting a weekly review of where the country stands in terms of virus threat.
They are using a scale of one to five, with one indicating a threat level of 'very low' and five being 'very high.'
And during the announcement on Monday morning, they sad the capital region now stands at level five, and level four in the rest of the nation.
But I recall last week that the threat level in the capital region was assessed to be 'moderate' and 'low' elsewhere.
How did the situation escalate so quickly?
Well, ICU beds are filling up at an alarmingly rapid rate first of all.
When health authorities first made the announcement last week, the capital region's ICU beds were a little over 75 percent full.
But as of Tuesday, more than 83 percent of the ICU beds in the capital region are occupied.
In less than a week, this figure saw an increase of around 8 percentage points.
Also as of Tuesday, more than 830 people were on the waiting list for beds.
As for hospitals that specialize in infectious diseases, the capital region is running at 77 percent of full capacity, while that figure stands at 57 percent for areas outside the capital.
And of course,.. there's the issue of rising infections as well.
"Infections in the capital area have continued to rise, and saw an average of 2,174 cases in the past week. That's a 27 percent rise from the week before, and a record-high."
Right Yeon-seung thank you for now but let's come back to this topic in a bit during our extended talks.