Genie out of the bottle

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Genie out of the bottle

Korea’s Covid-19 situation is getting worse fast. The number of daily cases exceeded 7,000 for the first time since the outbreak of the virus in February 2020. Over 4,000 people have died. Yet the Moon Jae-in administration does not have any detailed action plan to control such an alarming spread. If the government keeps dilly-dallying, the situation could be headed for disaster.

We can not blame the Omicron variant, which has yet to really show its strength. The government was not prepared for the “With Corona” policies it started November 1. Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong expected daily cases to surpass 5,000. In a town hall-style meeting with people last month, President Moon boasted of the government’s ability to handle as many as 10,000 daily cases. He may get his wish.

The government failed to arrange for enough Covid-19 ICU beds in hospitals after the number of daily cases rose to 4,000 last month. Then, it nonchalantly announced the principle that new Covid patients should basically stay at home for treatment. That was irresponsible. That decision by the government only helped increase the risk of infection among family members. We wonder if the government wants to stick with that measure even after those who stay home for treatment are about to grow to 20,000.

The obvious measures now are to toughen social distancing rules, including restricting business operating hours and private gatherings once again. The government must answer if it fueled a crisis due to internal confusion. Flanked by his secretary for disease control on November 29, Moon pledged not to return to the draconian distancing rules. As a result, the KCDC chief could not raise any objection, which possibly led to over 7,000 daily cases.

The government must draw up a concrete plan to reduce the number of deaths from Covid-19. While Japan shows nearly zero fatality rates, Korea sees new records each day. The government must speedily give booster shots to people older than 60. Only when it announces a drastic compensation plan for people with side effects from vaccination can the government minimize public hesitancy to get vaccinated.

If the administration fails to control this crisis, we cannot return to normal lives. Moon must make some tough decisions. It is not the time to listen to advice from his political strategists ahead of next year’s presidential election.
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