Despite the announcements of the ‘With Corona’ campaign, an attempt to live with Coronavirus which initiated at the start of November, after three weeks of mixed numbers and mixed reactions, South Korea may be tightening their grip and reconsidering resurrecting previous restrictions.
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum announced on Friday morning, Nov. 19th, that as the country continued to see a sharp rise in the number of critically ill COVID-19 patients and confirmed cases restrictions will need to be put in effect and carried out in order to prevent future tragedies and loss of medical supplies.
As of yesterday, Korea had a record-breaking 3,292 confirmed cases as Korea’s highest daily count. Previously, the largest outbreak was after Chuseok, a national holiday considered the Thanksgiving of Korea, totaling at 3,272 cases back in late September. The numbers continue to rise with the current total standing at 409,099 cases.
Currently, it has been three consecutive days of cases staying about 3,000. Despite over 80% of the Korean population being vaccinated, Prime Minister Kim stated hospital beds across the country must be efficiently managed as they are quickly being filled. Setting aside more hospital beds and medical resources is the government’s top priority – especially for other patients who require hospitalization.
Starting Monday, after the completion of Korea’s CSATS on Thursday, students will cease online learning and begin in-person classes. However, the fear of the rising numbers worries parents and the government as many previous cases have been reported of outbreaks occurring at schools and students often being spotted without wearing masks.
During the announcement, Kim stated, “There are concerns that our effort to return to normalcy could stop for a while if this crisis cannot be overcome. We will improve our management system.” However, many citizens are not surprised by these numbers as many countries who are preceding a return to normalcy through the same methods are experiencing a peek in numbers as well. Some argue that Korea needs to carry through with its new policies and hold its ground as the numbers could soon rapidly decrease. Despite the hopes, which is now coined “Tortured Hope” (희망고문) by Korean citizens, and concerns for the economy, Korea’s government is still taking a slow and steady approach to preventing the spread of the virus. Although some changes have been made, restrictions are still a reality and a backup plan Korea considers to reinforce as mentioned in the new Coronavirus restrictions.
Still, Korea remains as one of the top countries utilizing contact trace systems consistently and effectively through virtual passports, health cards, and QR scanning alongside location markers, temperature checks, and mask regulations (which have remained unchanged compared to other countries).
Currently, the KDCA had introduced a five-tier assessment system determining social distancing system on a weekly basis. After two-week period evaluations, restrictions will either be eased, increased or modified as needed.
What do you think of the possibility of undergoing a shutdown/lockdown again? Should Korea buckle down and reapply restrictions or hold their ground and fight through the possible increasing numbers? Share your thoughts in the comments.