Seoul gov't rolls out vaccination plans to start later this month

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Seoul gov't rolls out vaccination plans to start later this month

Members of the Korean Health and Medical Workers’ Union hold a protest near the Blue House in central Seoul Tuesday, demanding an increase in Covid-19 medical workers and better standards and treatment. [YONHAP]

Members of the Korean Health and Medical Workers’ Union hold a protest near the Blue House in central Seoul Tuesday, demanding an increase in Covid-19 medical workers and better standards and treatment. [YONHAP]

The Seoul city government announced Tuesday more detailed plans for its Covid-19 vaccination program expected to kick off later this month, aiming to inoculate 70 percent of the population before November.
 
The city plans to install and operate a total of 30 Covid-19 vaccination centers, with at least one center per district. It will also designate 3,500 hospitals and medical clinics in the capital with experience in national vaccination programs as vaccination centers.
 
The city also plans to operate a joint public-private quick response team to track and observe adverse reactions after vaccination and a call center to provide information.
 
Acting Seoul Mayor Seo Jung-hyup in a briefing outlining the plans pledged “seamless preparation to secure herd immunity."  
 
The city also plans to operate a joint public-private quick response team to track and observe adverse reactions after vaccination and a call center to provide information.
 
The city government held its first meeting Monday with the Seoul Medical Association, Seoul Hospital Association, Seoul Nurses Association, Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency and the Seoul Metropolitan Fire and Disaster Headquarters to discuss such public-private cooperation for the vaccination progress.
 
Last week, the government revealed its four-phase free coronavirus vaccination scheme, starting off with the inoculation of frontline medical workers and patients in elderly care facilities in the first quarter, then moving onto seniors 65 and older in the second quarter and the general public in the third quarter.  
 
The government has so far sourced enough Covid-19 vaccines to inoculate 56 million people, and Korea aims to achieve herd immunity by November.
 
Korea is expected to receive enough of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine to inoculate 60,000 people in mid-February through the Covax Facility and AstraZeneca vaccines for up to 2.19 million people in the first half of this year.
 
A mock run of the Covid-19 vaccination process was kicked off by the government this week, rehearsing the transportation, storage and administering of the shots. The National Medical Center in central Seoul was designated as the first state vaccination site and will have cold chain storage capacities to administer mRNA vaccines such as the ones developed by Pfizer and Moderna.
  
 Korea’s daily Covid-19 cases remained in the 300s for the third consecutive day, as health authorities Tuesday warned that the Lunar New Year holiday next week can be a big risk factor in spreading the virus.
 
Amid protests led by small business owners impacted by the Covid-19 restrictions, health authorities said they could review easing social distancing measures ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday only if they can ascertain a clear drop in the number of infections.
 
The government has extended Level 2.5 measures for two more weeks through Feb. 14, restricting operating hours for restaurants, cafes and many businesses and banning gatherings of five people or more.
 
Korea reported 336 new cases as of Monday midnight, of which 295 were local infections, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) Tuesday. This brings total Covid-19 cases to 78,844.
 
There were 10 more fatalities, bringing the total death toll to 1,435.
 
This compares to 355 new cases Saturday and 305 on Sunday. New patients have dropped compared to last week, which saw daily cases in the 400s and 500s, in large part due to a spike in infections related to missionary schools, but officials say it is too early to ascertain a decrease trend in infections.
 
Of the local transmissions, 121 cases were reported in Seoul, 70 cases in Gyeonggi and eight in Incheon.
 
Seoul’s cases remained in the 100s since last month and the city has seen infections in hospitals, work places, homeless shelters and gositel, or low-cost apartment buildings.
 
A Korean medicine hospital in Gangdong District, eastern Seoul, added 19 new cases after the first case was confirmed on Jan. 27, resulting in the testing of 474 people. Of a total 20 Covid-19 cases, 16 are patients, while others include family members and guardians.
 
The Hanyang University Hospital in Seongdong District, eastern Seoul, added five cases, reporting a total of 52 cases as of Tuesday.
 
Nine inmates at the Seoul Nambu Detention Center were confirmed to be Covid-19 positive Tuesday afternoon, said the Justice Ministry.
 
Outside of the greater Seoul area, 23 cases were reported in Gwangju, 18 in North Chungcheong, 10 in Busan and Daegu and eight in North Gyeonsang, while no new cases were reported in Daejeon, Ulsan, Sejong and Jeju.
 
Of 41 new imported cases, 23 were Koreans and 18 were foreigners, and 13 patients arrived from the United States, nine from Russia, three from Japan and seven from European countries.
 
BY SARAH KIM   [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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