Seven-day quarantine for Covid patients to remain in place
The extension comes as Korea counted 7,198 new infections Thursday, nearly half of which came from the Seoul metropolitan area — Seoul, Incheon and the surrounding Gyeonggi province.
The week-long isolation rule is one of the last remaining Covid restrictions that Korean health officials have yet to scrap, as the nation slowly learns how to live with the virus.
In a Friday briefing, officials at the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters said new Covid cases have dropped over the past month, but that the number of deaths is not low enough to ditch the quarantine mandate.
While health authorities look at multiple indicators in deciding the fate of the quarantine rule, they said weekly deaths from Covid-19 would have to drop below 100, for starters.
In the second week of June, 113 Covid-19 patients died.
As health experts predict cases will climb back up from August due to waning immunity, officials at the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters said maintaining the seven-day quarantine policy, for now, would at least lower the speed at which cases increase. Without quarantining, the headquarters warned cases would spike from July and grow as much as 8.3 times the current level by late August.
The headquarters said it would reassess the situation in four weeks to determine whether the isolation rule will remain.
Among Thursday’s new infections, Gyeonggi accounted for 1,723, followed by Seoul with 1,280 and South Gyeongsang at 522. Among Korea's 17 major cities and provinces, only Sejong recorded double-digit cases, at 59.
Over the past week, daily infections were mostly between 7,000 and 10,000.
BY LEE SUNG-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]