A rupture in K-quarantineQuarantine failures are spilling over. The highly contagious coronavirus arrived in the country through a family from Britain. Deaths broke out at residential care center among patients in waiting due to a lack of hospital space. Outbreaks also occurred in a detention center under the Justice Ministry.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency confirmed Monday that a variant virus strain has been identified in three family members who had arrived in Korea on Dec. 22 from London. Authorities had started suspending flights from Britain on Dec. 23. Since the British government reported the outbreak of a mutated coronavirus to the World Health Organization on Dec. 15, twelve people have entered the country from Britain Entrants from Europe where the new variant has spread are greater in number. There is the possibility that the variant could have spread while authorities were late to act on an entry ban.
Authorities still keep borders open except for entrants from Britain. Japan has banned foreign entries from Dec. 28 to late January. Korea too must enforce a ban until the end of January and stop entries of those from connected flights.
Loopholes in state quarantine are noted everywhere. Deaths are increasing among the cohort isolated in residential centers due to a lack of hospital beds.
The cumulative death count from Covid-19 has reached 819 as of Monday. Of them, 310 died in December, largely because of a lack of hospital beds.
The outbreak at a detention center in Dongbu District in Seoul is another example. The government set up a countermeasures center on Dec. 19 although an inmate already tested positive on Nov. 27. During that time, the justice ministry was entirely engrossed with a campaign to oust Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl.
Despite the state’s liability, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun urged people to practice quarantine at home because “a quarter of infections came from family members.”
Presidential chief of staff Noh Young-min recently claimed that South Korea could be faster than others in achieving collective immunity. The public sneer at him for trying to find an excuse for slow vaccine procurement.
The government must do its duty and stop pushing the public’s patience to its limits.