Quarantine rules loosened for vaccinated
Starting Friday, fully vaccinated people will be exempted from 14-day quarantine if they are asymptomatic after coming into close contact with a Covid-19 patient.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) announced Thursday updated guidelines for fully vaccinated people, which will take effect Friday.
Under the new guidelines, people who have passed two weeks after a final vaccine dose won’t have to undergo mandatory quarantine if they have close contact with a virus patient and show no symptoms.
“The effects of vaccinations against virus variants are being confirmed from domestic and foreign studies,” the KDCA said in a press release, “and we have reflected the continuing rise of the vaccination rate [in Korea].”
Previously, quarantine exemptions were only made if the contacted patient did not have one of the newer coronavirus variants.
From now on, fully vaccinated people who are asymptomatic after coming into contact with a Covid-19 patient will go under so-called passive monitoring, which requires two negative PCR test results — one immediately after the contact and another six to seven days later.
They can continue their daily routines, but have to monitor their health condition for 14 days. They are also asked to take a Covid-19 test if they show any symptoms, refrain from outdoor activities or visiting public facilities and must follow social distancing rules. If they violate those rules, they will be immediately put under quarantine.
That incentive won’t apply for people in facilities that are at high risk of Covid-19 infections such as nursing homes. If an infection breaks out in them, employees and others will have to go into quarantine.
Meanwhile, Korea added 1,716 new Covid-19 cases, including 1,698 local infections, over the past 24 hours, which was the last day of the five-day Chuseok holiday, according to the KDCA.
The total caseload now stands at 292,699.
Health officials warned that a rise in new infections is likely to come next week following Chuseok.
"As contact between people increased during the holidays, the number of conducted tests and the number of confirmed cases will increase today and tomorrow,” said Park Hyang, director of antivirus measures at the Central Disaster Management Headquarters, told reporters on Thursday. “We believe the [effect] of contact during the holidays is likely to show within next week.”
Health authorities also urged people to get tested for Covid-19 if they show any symptoms after traveling long distance or having meetings during the holidays.
Amid high expectations for a phased recovery to normal life — or gradually easing virus restrictions under the concept of “living with Covid-19” — the authorities said they will have to review the virus situation comprehensively after Korea’s fully vaccinated rate hits 70 percent.
As of Wednesday midnight, 43.2 percent of the total population had been fully vaccinated, and 71.2 percent had received one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, a KDCA data showed.
Eased virus measures during the Chuseok holiday will be strengthened again from Friday, with the number of private gatherings limited again to a maximum of six from eight in the greater Seoul area, with at least two of the people fully vaccinated.
BY SEO JI-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]