Cumulative Covid cases top 20 million in Korea
Korea surpassed 20 million total Covid cases on Wednesday, but health authorities said they're sticking to their focus on protecting vulnerable groups and not resuming restrictions on the general populace.
Newly confirmed Covid cases exceeded the 110,000 mark for the second day in a row Wednesday, bringing the cumulative total of confirmed cases to 20,052,305, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
Speaking at a meeting of the Central Disease Control Headquarters at the Central Government Complex in Jongno District, central Seoul on Wednesday, Lee Ki-il, second vice minister at the Health Ministry, said the government would continue to focus on age groups with higher average mortality rates from the disease — and not return to stringent social distancing measures of the past.
“After two years and seven months, we have more experience and data related to Covid, and we know better how to be vigilant against it,” Lee said.
One measure is encouraging people over the age of 50 to receive their fourth jab as soon as possible.
The mortality rate of Covid for people in their 40s is 0.01 percent — only a quarter of the 0.04 percent death rate for infected people in their 50s.
Wednesday’s count of newly infected people is higher than Tuesday’s 111,789, which was the highest number in three months, signaling that the country has yet to turn a corner in its ongoing sixth wave of infections. The average number of daily confirmed cases in the past week was 86,512, compared to a daily average of 60,685 cases from July 17 to 23.
The number of imported Covid-19 cases was 600, another all-time high since the pandemic began. Increased travel since the easing of entry regulations is believe to be driving a rise in people testing positive for the virus upon arrival in Korea.
The number of patients in critical condition was 284, while there were 26 deaths, bringing the country’s total pandemic death toll to 25,110.
Even after accounting for people infected with Covid more than once, the cumulative total of Covid cases detected in Korea suggests that at least two out of every five people in the country have been infected with Covid over the course of the pandemic.
By way of comparison, the 91.47 million cumulative positive cases detected in the United States suggest only about one in four people there have been infected with Covid, although 1.03 million people have died of the disease to date in the United States. The U.S. Covid fatality rate is 1.13 percent — far higher than Korea's 0.13 percent.
Experts believe that half the population of Korea has likely been infected with the virus at some point over the course of the pandemic once infections that went untested are included.
Experts also believe that current daily positive case numbers are not an accurate picture of the ongoing sixth wave due to a lower number of people being tested during the summer holiday.
The current wave is being driven by the highly infectious BA.5 Omicron subvariant, which is now the dominant strain of the virus in Korea, accounting for 60.9 of all new infections in the fourth week of July, according to data from the health authorities.
BY MICHAEL LEE [email@example.com]