Don’t repeat the same mistakesCovid-19 infections in Korea are spreading again at a pace much faster than expected. On Tuesday, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters said the number of daily cases already reached 73,582. The trend is not promising. In the second week of July, average daily cases nearly doubled to 32,856 from the previous week. The number of critically-ill patients and death toll also increased by 47.9 percent and 67.7 percent, respectively, compared to the week before.
As the speed of the virus spread is even faster than predicted, a research team has forecast a new peak of 280,000 daily cases in mid-August instead of 150,000 to 200,000 daily cases it forecast earlier. Some medical professionals anticipated a daily death toll up to 140 and the number of critically-ill patients as high as 2,000 per day.
More alarming is an increasing share of teenagers with infections. It rose 2.4 times faster than in other age groups. Given the low vaccination rate of the young group and frequent contacts at school, it is difficult for health authorities to prevent a fast spread of infection among the teenagers in particular.
The Yoon Suk-yeol administration’s measures are only focused on encouraging citizens to get a fourth shot from this week. To make matters worse, both the teenagers and people in their 20s are not required to get another round of vaccinations. It’s just a matter of time for the BA.5 Omicron subvariant to emerge as a dominant variant in the country. The government’s announcement Tuesday of a stronger plan to compensate for physical damage from vaccinations can hardly convince citizens of the need for another shot.
The public health authorities failed to clearly explain the reasons for the alarming spread of the virus. The government must listen to a warning from a professor of infectious diseases at Korea University, who said the real number of Covid patients in Korea could be even higher than estimated particularly after makeshift PCR test centers across the country closed en masse in early spring.
The health authorities did not present reliable measures to curb the spread of the virus except for stressing the importance of personal hygiene. Their plan to warn beachgoers about the density of people on beaches cannot calm public jitters. The government must devise meticulous plans to effectively deal with the new virus threat based on science if it really wants to ease people’s anxieties.
The government must find effective solutions for teenagers above all. It must stop a dry and routine announcement of daily cases. It must not repeat the mistakes of the previous administration in battling Covid-19.