Not time to lower our guardThe growth in new cases in coronavirus (Covid-19) infections eased to a single digit in Korea on Sunday, when only eight cases were recorded, the lowest daily addition since Feb. 18, just before the surge in the community infection from a congregation at a Shincheonji church in Daegu. Much of the success is thanks to the devoted medical professionals and voluntary restraint by civilians. Two rounds of rigorous social distancing have helped control the spread.
But experts warn against letting down our guard. Covid-19 has the dangerous feature of infecting people without apparent symptoms. People have caught the disease even without a clear route of getting infection. In Yecheon, North Gyeongsang, 30 have tested positive. But it is not clear where they caught the disease. Of the confirmed cases that have been reported this month, 3 percent could not be traced.
Many churches held Easter services last weekend. A national election was held last Wednesday. But, there is the risk of a new outbreak. Infections are still on the rise in Japan, the United States and in Latin America.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) announced an extension in social distancing to May 5 due to fears of community infections over the upcoming holiday which includes Labor Day on May 1. But the KCDC eased social distancing and earlier restrictions on religious facilities, cram schools, nightclubs and indoor gyms. Recruitment and regular state exams have been allowed to proceed upon obliging with quarantine measures.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said that the quarantine rules will be shifted towards “routine” distancing from intensive implementation of social distancing from May 6 if containment is kept at the current manageable level. The government aims to gradually normalize lives while keeping up vigilance.
But the case of Singapore has already proven that hasty relaxation in social distancing can lead to a second wave of the outbreak. After schools were reopened, over 1,000 new cases were reported in the city-state.
Many social tensions have eased after the April 15 parliamentary elections in Korea. We must not let down our guard down lest all our endeavors over the last two months go wasted. The battle with Covid-19 is hardly over.