Administer booster shots fasterThe return to normalcy from Covid-19 has hit a snag. After restrictions were eased on Nov. 1 under the “With Corona” policy, new infections and deaths have increased. Hospital beds for the critically ill need to be added and booster shots must be administered faster to swiftly deal with the new developments.
During a legislative hearing on Nov. 11, Jeong Eun-kyeong, commissioner of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), said that authorities may have to bring back restrictions if conditions worsen. At this rate, further easing under the normalization timetable may not be possible by mid-December as planned.
New cases have been hovering above 2,000 since Nov. 10. The number of patients in the critical category has been rising since hitting 460 on Nov. 10. The daily death toll hit 32 on November 12, the largest since the fourth outbreak in early July. Total deaths from Covid-19 are 3,103 as of Sunday.
To return to normal life as planned, the seriously-ill must be contained. The government says hospitals can care for up to 500 critically-ill patients. If more than 75 percent of intensive care unit hospital beds are filled by Covid-19 patients, the government may have to suspend the normalization path. The share of Covid-19 patients in intensive care beds reached 76.2 percent in Seoul, 76 percent in Gyeonggi Province and 71.9 percent in Incheon.
The government plans to announce additional measures on Tuesday. It will have to secure more beds to contain the critical patients. It can start integrated management of hospitals in non-capital regions where there is still room in intensive care units.
Deaths mostly came from seniors whose vaccination effects wore off. Authorities may have to consider hastening booster shots to prevent a further spread. The additional shots are being administered to people aged 75 or older. The age group should be expanded to 60 to 75 years old.
Quarantine actions must become more meticulous. Going back to the rigid mitigation rules is not right. But a hurried lifting of restrictions should not be rushed. All civilians must cooperate. Thoughtless actions such as the mass rally carried out by the militant Korean Confederation of Trade Unions can push the normalization of lives farther away.