• News Update 10/13/2021

▶ S. KOREA EYES RETURN TO PRE-PANDEMIC NORMAL

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum says after enduring much hardship the country is now at a stage where it can start to prepare for a gradual return to "normal life."

Kim made the remark Wednesday at the first meeting of a committee comprised of government and civilian experts tasked with helping people get back to pre-pandemic daily activities.

Earlier, health authorities announced that South Korea will shift to a new strategy that involves living with the coronavirus as vaccinations ramp up.

Under the plan that is expected to be implemented on November 9, COVID-19 will be treated like other contagious respiratory diseases such as the seasonal flu.

Kim stressed that preventative measures such as the use of faces masks will not go away.

But he said a so-called vaccine pass is being considered for those fully inoculated against the novel coronavirus as well as other new quarantine measures, without elaborating.

▶ KDCA REPORTS 1,584 NEW COVID-19 CASES

The latest resurgence of COVID-19 in South Korea has begun to show some signs of a potential slowdown amid rising vaccination rates.

But health authorities remain cautious, indicating that it could take at least another week to see the impact of recent holiday weekends on the coronavirus situation.

The KDCA recorded 1,584 new infections in the last 24 hours and 11 more virus-related deaths.

The country's COVID inoculation program is accelerating towards the goal of fully vaccinating 70 percent of the population in hopes of achieving herd immunity by November.

According to the KDCA, 78.1 percent of people here have so far received one dose of a vaccine and 60.8 percent have been fully vaccinated.

▶ S. KOREA, US COMMITTED TO ENGAGING N. KOREA

The top security officials of South Korea and the United States reaffirmed on Tuesday their commitment to engaging with North Korea.

Suh Hoon, the director of Cheong Wa Dae's National Security Office, and his American counterpart, Jake Sullivan, owed to work together in bringing the North back to the dialogue table during their meeting in Washington.

Sullivan reiterated that the U.S. holds no hostile policy toward Pyongyang as claimed by the regime.

Suh said he explained Seoul's efforts to formally end the Korean War and to consult closely with U.S. officials on the issue.

President Moon Jae-in made the proposal at the United Nations General Assembly last month, saying such a move may help kickstart the North`s denuclearization process.

▶ G20 LEADERS VOW TO AID AFGHANS

G20 leaders have promised to address Afghanistan's humanitarian crisis, even if this means liaising with its new Taliban rulers.

The host of the emergency virtual summit, Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi, said it would be very hard to help Afghans without involving the Islamic group but this did not mean recognizing them.

[Clip: Draghi]
"Now, we have to answer the humanitarian crisis. That's the very first thing. It will require contact with the Taliban. That doesn't imply recognition. A recognition will have to acknowledge that the Taliban will be judged for what their deeds are, not their words."

▶ US HOUSE APPROVES SHORT-TERM DEBT CEILING FIX

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation that will temporarily raise the country's borrowing limit and prevent it from defaulting on its debt.

The Treasury Department can now borrow 28.9 trillion dollars.









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