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Korea tightens social distance to fight virus wave

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South Korea is recently tightening relaxed restrictions on social gatherings as the country grapples with its worst wave of the virus since the start of the pandemic.

Starting next week, private social gatherings of seven or more people will be banned in the densely populated capital. Seoul and adjacent urban areas, which have been hardest hit by the delta-driven contagion, threaten to overwhelm hospital capacity. Officials said gatherings would be limited to eight people in areas outside the capital.

Adults will also be required to verify their immunization status through apps to use restaurants, cinemas, museums, libraries and other indoor locations. Most of these locations will only accept fully vaccinated adults, while restaurants and cafes will be allowed to accept one adult in each group who has not been vaccinated or fully vaccinated.

Officials plan to expand vaccine certification to children between the ages of 12 and 18 starting in February, when they expect more children to be vaccinated.

Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol said the collection restrictions will be in place for at least four weeks as officials monitor the development of the virus.

Previously, the limit for social gatherings was 10 people in the greater capital area and 12 people in other areas, regardless of whether participants were fully vaccinated. Kwon said officials also considered limiting indoor dining hours at restaurants, which are currently allowed to stay open for 24 hours, but decided to postpone them because of livelihood concerns.

“The situation is getting worse and worse – the daily increase in infections has reached around 5,000 and there is an increasing risk that our healthcare system is in danger,” Kwon said in a press conference. we will reach the limit.

“On top of that, we have confirmed cases of the (new) omicron coronavirus variant and there is concern that it will spread further in local communities,” he added, referring to the six omicron cases. The country’s first detected since Wednesday is linked to the word Nigeria

Much remains unknown about the new variant, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it makes people worse, and whether it makes people sick. interfere with the vaccine.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 4,944 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, a day after South Korea set a single-day record with 5,266 new cases. The number of virus patients in serious or critical condition has reached a record high of 736. The country’s death toll is now 3,739 after reporting 30 to 50 deaths a day in recent weeks. .

The surge in the virus has been a rude wake-up call for South Korea, which relaxed its social distancing rules in early November and fully reopened schools on November 22. what officials have described as the first step to restoring pre-pandemic normalcy.

In allowing larger social gatherings and lifting indoor mealtime restrictions, officials had hoped that improving the country’s vaccination rates would help stave off hospitalizations and deaths. even as the virus continues to spread.

However, healthcare workers have struggled with an increase in severe cases in people aged 60 and over, who have refused vaccines or who have weakened immunity after given early in the vaccine rollout that began in February.

As of Friday, more than 80% of the population of more than 51 million people were fully immunized. But only 7% of the population received booster shots.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/south-korea-seoul-nigeria-b1968981.html Korea tightens social distance to fight virus wave

JACLYN DIAZ

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