After initial success, the S. Korea virus fell asleep in crisis

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea seemed to be winning the fight against the coronavirus: its initial testing, contact-detection and quarantine efforts paid off quickly when the lockout erupted without economic pain. But a fatal resurgence during Christmas week has reached new heights, exploring the soul of how the nation fell asleep in crisis.

The 1,241 infections on Christmas Day were the biggest increase of the day. Another 1,132 cases were reported on Saturday, bringing South Korea’s case load to 55,902.

More than 15,000 people have been added in the last 15 days alone. In the same period, 221 additional deaths, the most severe, reached 793 deaths.

As the numbers increase, so does the livelihood of the people and the confidence of the people in the government. After resisting for weeks, officials may decide to increase the social distance measure to a maximum level on Sunday.

Strict restrictions may be inevitable as the transition transcends efforts to expand the hospital’s capabilities.

In the larger Seoul area, more facilities have been designated for COVID-19 treatment and dozens of general hospitals have been ordered to allocate more ICUs for virus patients. Hundreds of troops have been deployed to help with contract tracing.

At least four patients have died at their homes or in long-term care facilities awaiting admission this month, said Kwak Jin, an official with the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. Of the 16,577 active patients, 299 are in critical or critical condition, the agency said.

“Our hospital system is not going to collapse, but the crush of Kovid-19 patients is a significant impediment to our response,” said Choi Won-suk, a professor of infectious diseases at Korea University Anson Hospital west of Seoul.

Choi said the government should do more to prepare hospitals for winter hikes.

“We have patients with all sorts of serious illnesses in our ICU and they can’t share any space with COVID-19 patients, so it’s difficult,” Choi said. “These are the same medical staff who have been fighting the virus all these months. Fatigue accumulates. ”

Critics say President Moon Jae-in’s government was happy with the rapid eruption this spring, centered in the southeastern city of Daegu.

The risk of putting economic concerns against public health has been reduced in recent weeks when vaccines are at least months away. Officials relaxed social distance rules at their lower levels in October to allow the reopening of high-risk venues such as clubs and carousel rooms, although experts were warning of a viral surge during the winter when people spend long hours indoors.

Jahun Jung, a professor of preventive medicine at Incheon University College of Medicine, said he expects the infection to progress slowly over the next two weeks.

The quiet streets and long lines around Seoul’s test stations, which are temporarily offering free tests to anyone with symptoms or obvious causes of infection, show a return to public awareness in the months following epidemic fatigue.

Authorities are also suspending private social gatherings on Jan. 3, closing ski resorts, banning hotels from selling more than half of their rooms and imposing fines on restaurants if they accept groups of five or more.

Reducing the transition to levels seen in early November – 100 to 200 a day – would be unrealistic, Jung said, adding that about 300 to 500 cases would be settled every day.

Horrible perspectives for low-income workers and self-employed people who drive in the service sector of the country – the high baseline may require strict social distance for the part of the economy most damaging to the virus.

Jung said the government should do whatever it takes to secure adequate supplies and move the vaccine administration forward as soon as possible.

South Korea plans to secure about 86 million doses of the vaccine next year, covering 46 million people out of a population of 51 million. The first supply, which will be the AstraZeneca vaccine produced by a local production partner, is expected to arrive in February and March. Officials plan to complete 60% to 70% of the population vaccination around November.

There is frustration that the shots do not come soon, though officials have insisted that South Korea can wait because its outrage is not as terrible as in the US or Europe.

South Korea’s previous success is due to its experience fighting the outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, MERS, 2015, caused by various coronaviruses.

After South Korea reported the first Covid-19 patient on January 20, KDC was quick to recognize the importance of mass testing and accelerated the approval process, with private companies producing millions of tests in just one week.

When infections in the Daegu area increased in February and March, health officials took control of the situation by April after aggressively assembling technical equipment to locate contacts and enforce quarantine.

But that success was also a product of fate – most of the infections in Daegu were linked to the same church congregation. Health workers are now having a very difficult time tracking transmissions in populated capital areas, where clusters are popping up everywhere.

South Korea has so far erupted without a lockdown, but Sunday’s decision to increase sanctions on the maximum “Tier-3” distance could potentially shut down thousands of non-essential businesses across the country.

That may be for the best, Yu Yun-Sun, which operates in Incheon and Sihang, near Seoul, amid a shortage of students and a shut-off, is struggling to pay the rent for three small music tutoring academies.

“What parents will send their children for a piano lesson,” she said until the transition is quickly and decisively reduced.

The U.S. also feels that the government’s middling approach to social distance, which has targeted specific business activities by exposing a broad segment of the economy, has placed an undue financial burden on businesses like this.

“Whether it’s academy, gym, yoga studies or karaoke tutoring, the same professions are getting hit again and again,” he said. “How long can we move on?”