More out-patient clinics for Covid planned
The government is planning an outpatient treatment system for Covid-19 patients to get care without having to be hospitalized.
“We are currently preparing [an outpatient treatment system],” Kim Ji-yeon, head of the medical treatment support team at the Central Disaster Management Headquarters, told reporters on Thursday.
“We are setting up measures to install short-term medical treatment centers [in state-designated medical facilities for Covid-19 patients] where patients can be released after one to two days of treatment,” Kim said.
Currently, Seoul and its neighboring Gyeonggi are each operating one short-term medical treatment center.
Covid-19 patients who have been treated at home but get worse can stay at the center for one to two days to get examined, and return home if they feel ok or be taken to a hospital if their situation deteriorates.
Incheon is also considering setting up a short-term medical treatment center where patients can receive treatment and leave on the same day.
Health authorities have been pushing for an expansion of Covid home treatment in line with the country adopting “With Corona” strategies in November.
Home treatment in Korea is available for asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic individuals under the age of 70 who tested positive but don't need hospitalization.
If a home-care patient’s symptoms worsen, they can have remote consultations and prescriptions from a doctor, or be transported to a medical facility in case of emergency.
According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), a total of 3,219 Covid-19 patients are being treated at home as of Wednesday midnight, with 96.7 percent concentrated in the greater capital area — 1,731 in Seoul, 1,207 in Gyeonggi and 177 in Incheon.
In response to why home treatment is not widely implemented in non-capital regions, Kim explained that patients prefer to be treated in hospitals in those areas.
Meanwhile, the number of daily Covid-19 cases rose by nearly 2,000 on Thursday while authorities prepare to announce new distancing measures on Friday.
Korea reported 1,940 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, up 357 from the previous day, raising the total caseload to 337,679, according to the KDCA.
Thirteen more virus deaths were added, raising the death toll to 2,618.
Vaccination rates are also rising, with Korea expected to reach its 70 percent Covid vaccine milestone earlier than planned.
As of Wednesday midnight, 61.6 percent of the population had completed their doses, while 78.3 percent had received one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Kwon Joon-wook, deputy director of the Central Disease Control Headquarters, said Thursday that once the country has 85 percent of the population fully vaccinated, it can theoretically overcome the highly contagious Delta variant without quarantine policies such as virus restrictions and mask wearing.
BY SEO JI-EUN [email@example.com]