Covid-19 support to be reduced as case numbers plateau
Korea will reduce support for people infected with Covid-19 from next month as it moves another step toward living with the virus.
The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters on Friday released a plan for a reduction in financial support for people in quarantine for Covid-19. Under the new plan, fewer people will be eligible for the government assistance.
Currently, an allowance is given to all Covid-19 patients in quarantine regardless of their income, with single-person households receiving 100,000 won ($77), and households with two or more people receiving 150,000 won.
From July 11, only households earning less than the medium income, based on health insurance premiums, will be entitled to the allowance.
Based on monthly income at the time of quarantine, individuals will receive the allowance if their monthly income is less than 2,334,000 won, two-person households if their income is less than 2,360,000 won, three-person households if it is below 4,195,000 won and four-person households if it is below 5,121,000 won.
The subsidy for paid sick leave due to Covid-19 will also be curtailed and provided only to small businesses with fewer than 30 employees.
The current Covid-19 paid sick leave program covers up to five days of leave, with 45,000 won paid a day for all small and medium-sized enterprises. But with the support being reduced from next month, many office workers are expected to have to take their personal annual leave or work from home while in self-isolation.
"The purpose is to increase sustainability and efficiency, such as focusing financial resources on the areas that are more in need and retaining the financial capacity to prepare for a possible resurgence in the second half of the year," explained Son Young-rae, senior epidemiological strategist at the Central Disaster Management Headquarters, during Friday's press briefing.
The government also announced a gradual reduction in the allowance for Covid-19 medical costs.
From July 11, expenses for Covid-19 home treatment — such as doctor's fees and medicine costs — will be the responsibility of the patient if the amount is small. The average uncompensated home treatment costs in the first quarter of this year is about 13,000 won a person at medical clinics and 6,000 won at pharmacies.
Expenses for hospitalization or antiviral pills, which are relatively expensive, will continued to be fully covered by the government.
Korea recorded 6,246 new cases Sunday, bringing the cumulative total number to 18,326,019, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) data.
The daily tally has been below 10,000 for 17 consecutive days.
Sunday's figure is down by 15.3 percent from two Sundays earlier, yet is up 2.9 percent from the previous Sunday. It is the first time in seven weeks for a Sunday tally to climb on week.
Following the eased aviation regulations and quarantine rules, the number of visitors and returning residents with Covid-19 is growing. Of Sunday's cases, 135 were imported, the most since Feb. 28's 160 cases.
Six more people died of the virus overnight, bringing the death toll to 24,522.
BY SEO JI-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]