• News Update 12/08/2021

▶ S. KOREA LOGS OVER 7,000 NEW COVID-19 CASES

South Korea has reported 7,175 new COVID-19 cases, the biggest single day jump since the pandemic began early last year.

The tally included 7,142 cases of local transmission, more than 5,000 of which were from the greater Seoul area, and 33 cases imported from abroad.

The death toll rose by 63 to surpass 4,000, while the number of critically ill coronavirus patients in ICUs reached yet another fresh high of 840.

The country has been battling a sharp spike in new infections since it began easing social distancing rules last month under its "living with COVID-19" campaign.

In the midst of this surge, the emergence of the new Omicron variant has compounded threats to public health.

The KDCA said the total number of Omicron cases had reached 38.

The government has reimposed caps on private gatherings and expanded the vaccine pass system to more multi-use facilities, urging people to cooperate with the national vaccination campaign.

More than 80 percent of people in South Korea have so far been fully vaccinated against the virus.

▶ MORE MEDICAL SUPPORT NEEDED AMID RECORD SURGE

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum has raised concerns about public safety.

He warned, "In the wake of the fierce spread of the virus, the medical system is being rapidly exhausted."

Kim said the government plans to strengthen the at-home treatment system to support the surge in non-severe COVID-19 patients by expanding administrative support staff as well as the number of designated medical institutions that can give hospital-level care.

By early next year, oral coronavirus treatments and supplementary medical services are also expected to be available for high-risk patients undergoing COVID recovery at home.

Kim added that measures will be drawn up to alleviate the burden faced by households with at-home patients, including reducing the joint isolation period and providing financial support.

▶ FAUCI SAYS OMICRON NOT MORE SEVERE THAN DELTA

Early indications suggest the new Omicron coronavirus variant is not worse than prior strains and is possibly milder, according to the top infectious disease expert in the United States.

But Dr. Anthony Fauci said it would take weeks to judge its severity.

He told AFP the new variant is "clearly highly transmissible" and potentially more so than Delta, which is the current dominant global strain, although, he added that "it almost certainly is not more severe than Delta."

Omicron has now been detected in at least 38 countries worldwide.

▶ BIDEN WARNS PUTIN AGAINST UKRAINE INVASION

U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian leader Vladimir Putin have held a two-hour video summit amid heightened tensions over Ukraine.

Responding to U.S. unease about a huge Russian troop buildup on the Ukrainian border, Putin expressed concern about what he called provocative actions by Kiev.

Biden warned of a strong reaction and economic consequences in the case of a Russian invasion.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Biden was direct and straightforward with his Russian counterpart, but said Biden also told President Putin there's another option, de-escalation and diplomacy.

▶ AUSTRALIA JOINS DIPLOMATIC BOYCOTT OF BEIJING GAMES

Australia has joined the United States in a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, confirming that it will not send officials or politicians to the Games.

The BBC's Phil Mercer reports from Sydney.

[Reporter]
The Australian Olympic Committee said it supports the government in Canberra's decision.

So, what that means is that 40 Australian athletes will be competing in Beijing.

But, those Australians politicians and diplomats who would normally attend will be staying away and as far as Australia is concerned, it believes it is part now of an international movement, sending a very clear message to China that these alleged human rights abuses of its minorities, of its Uyghur minorities, won't be tolerated.






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