State of confusion

Home > Opinion > Editorials

print dictionary print

State of confusion

The government has announced changes to its public health response to Covid-19, including a shortening of the quarantine period to seven days from 10 days. Employment of a new testing system — a key change — will be confined to four regions, including Gwangju, which have seen a dramatic increase in the new Omicron variant of Covid-19. As daily cases exceeded 7,000 for three consecutive days, the government is supposed to drastically change the current public health system according to the guidelines. Could a change such as a shortened isolation period help control the spread of the virus?

A briefing on Monday by Jeong Eun-kyeong, commissioner of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), was notable for the many questions from reporters, including what kind of self-test kits are available at pharmacies and when the new guidelines will be implemented across the country. The general public is even more confused than the journalists.

In Korea, the speed of the spread of the new variant has been relatively slow. In other words, the government had enough time to deal with it. On January 14, when it announced a new strategy to tackle the Omicron variant, the government said it would immediately shift to measures aimed at preventing critically-ill patients and allowing autonomy in treatment.

But after ten days, the government is still vague on details about the new system. For instance, some people can receive a PCR test for free while others must go to the hospital for the test. Free tests also depend on where you live. Prices of test kits will soar. With less than a week left before the five-day Lunar New Year holiday, public anxiety is deepened.

The government plans to allow Covid patients with light symptoms to get outpatient treatment from neighborhood hospitals and stay at home. But doctors ask if they must wear protective clothing when Covid patients come in. Neighborhood hospitals are unclear how to take care of Covid patients. Is a sudden announcement of new public health measures enough?

The government boasted the excellence of its so-called “K-quarantine” to the press by staging a mock training to transport Covid-19 vaccines by special forces. At that time, many wondered why it had to mobilize armed forces for such a task.

With daily cases topping 7,000, what is the government doing? After 24 employees of the Ministry of Health and Welfare tested positive, 30 percent of its quarantine staff were ordered to work from home. If the government persists with this confusion, avoidable deaths will be one result.
Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)