Remaining vigilantThe third wave of the coronavirus outbreak is spilling over beyond control. Daily cases have exceeded 400 over a week every day, a threshold that should push the social distancing level to 2.5 in the capital. Although social restrictions have become tightened to Level 2 in the capital region, the spread has not waned.
But the Moon Jae-in administration is putting off a further upgrading of the distancing level even as this week marks a watershed moment with our national college entry exam coming up on Thursday.
Over 500,000 students will be sitting for the once-a-year college entrance test on Dec. 3. Even seated at a distance, students will be clustered in rooms all day to take the test. Once they are done, they will rush out to the streets to relieve their yearlong stress. Authorities should be fully prepared to prevent a possible spread of the virus from them.
The fall-winter spread has been worsened by the government’s wavering policy. Authorities rushed to ease the social distancing level to the lowest in October and handed out discount coupons to stimulate the economy. At the same time, the government further divided the social distancing levels into five tiers from three tiers to give citizens more room for activities.
The authorities were also inconsistent on public assembly policy. It held up barricades and banned the rallies of conservative groups on Gwanghwamun Square in August and October. But it condoned rallies held by the militant Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and other progressive civic groups earlier this month. Quarantine guidelines under the sway of political design and ideology have damaged public trust and support.
That’s not all. District and city government employees went on with their year-end pleasure trips. While public discipline shook amidst the third wave of Covid-19, President Moon Jae-in stayed out of tune with reality. During a G-20 video summit, he nonchalantly boasted about the quarantine success in the country.
Hospital beds are quickly running out as the virus spread has been faster during the winter wave. There is no knowing when vaccines will be available to Korea. The government and people must not let their guards down.