More people eligible for fourth Covid-19 jabs as new cases continue to climb
Korea decided to loosen the eligibility requirements for the fourth dose of coronavirus vaccines on Wednesday as the country's daily new Covid-19 cases climbed above 40,000 for the first time in more than two months.
The country reported 40,266 new Covid-19 infections on Wednesday, over two times that of the 19,362 cases recorded the Wednesday before. It also marked the largest daily total in 63 days.
Of Wednesday’s tally, 398 were imported from overseas.
The cumulative number of the country's Covid-19 patients was raised to 18,602,109.
The number of hospitalized patients in critical condition totaled 67 as of Tuesday midnight, down by seven from the day before.
Twelve more people died of the virus overnight, bringing the death toll to 24,680. The overall fatality rate remained at 0.13 percent.
Amid an uptick in Covid-19 cases, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo announced in a virus meeting Wednesday that the government will offer fourth doses of Covid vaccines to more people.
Currently, groups eligible for a fourth vaccine dose are people over the age of 59; immune-compromised people; and residents or workers at nursing hospitals.
The program will now expand to include people in their 50s; those aged 18 or older with underlying diseases; employees and residents in facilities for the handicapped and in homeless shelters.
Han said the eligible groups are strongly encouraged to receive a fourth dose.
The seven-day quarantine mandate for people who test positive for the virus remains unchanged.
Despite the recent virus resurgence, the government decided not to reinstate social distancing measures.
The prime minister, however, warned that distancing rules could be introduced selectively in case of a significant change in the pandemic wave.
Han noted the BA.5 Omicron subvariant — which appears to be immune to immunity — is triggering a resurgence of the virus earlier than expected, and that Korea may see up to 200,000 confirmed Covid-19 patients a day from mid-August to the end of September.
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