Short-sighted responsePatients seriously sick from Covid-19 reached 522 by Wednesday, exceeding the threshold the state could manage for hospitalization. New infection cases also have topped 3,000.
Covid-19 patients have already commanded more than 75 percent of hospital beds in intensive care units in the capital region. While easing restrictions to convert to “With Corona” mode, the government warned it could temporarily go back to tightened rules 75 percent of hospital beds go to Covid-19 patients. The government has begun to send patients to other regions with extra beds. Authorities have not mentioned any change in the measures.
Businesses are jittery about going back to toughened rules. It raises questions whether the authorities had fully prepared for long-awaited normalization. Disease experts shake their heads as patients and infections were bound to increase when mitigation rules are lifted. The government announced it will advance booster shot administration. But its stalling and ambiguity only add to apprehension.
If society goes back to social distancing, the damage and pain would be enormous. The economy is in a pitiful state from the pandemic coupled with government policy failures. Our long-term growth potential has become the weakest in the OECD. As many as 944 self-employed ended their own lives due to hardship last year.
Presidential candidates vie with populist platforms to win votes during the pandemic period. Ruling Democratic Party candidate Lee Jae-myung promised to spend between 10 trillion won ($8.47 billion) and 20 trillion won to give relief grants to every citizen. Opposition People Power Party candidate Yoon Seok-youl vows to compensate the self-employed with 50 trillion won. The floor leader of the ruling party even threatened a parliamentary investigation on the finance ministry when it opposed an increase in quarantine budget. All the fiasco could have been averted if vaccines had been secured at an early stage.
Authorities must enhance hospital capacity and come up with meticulous strategy, including vaccines for teenagers. Radical actions may be needed to improve the medical care situation in the capital region. Experts advise authorities to invite voluntary sharing from private hospitals and establish infrastructure for lighter patients to be treated from home. The short-sighted response cannot create faith in the government and its ability to steer through the lengthy combat with Covid-19.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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