• News Update 1/24/2022


▶ KDCA REPORTS MORE THAN 7,000 NEW COVID CASES

South Korea has reported more than 7,000 new coronavirus cases for the third straight day amid mounting concerns over Omicron.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency confirmed 7,513 new infections from the last 24 hours, an all-time high tally for any Monday since the start of the pandemic.

The number of critical coronavirus patients in intensive care units nationwide stood at 418, down 13 from the previous day.

But the KDCA counted 25 more virus-related fatalities, raising the death toll to 6,565.

Eighty-five point four percent of the country's 52 million population has been fully vaccinated and just over 49 percent, had received booster shots, according to health authorities.

▶ PM KIM TO ADDRESS NATION AMID OMICRON SURGE

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum will address the nation this afternoon on the COVID-19 situation.

He is expected to announce the fact that the Omicron variant has become the dominant form of the coronavirus in the country.

Kim is also likely to give an update on the government's quarantine and social distancing policies, and urge the public to follow preventative antivirus measures to minimize the risk of the rapidly spreading variant.

There are concerns that cases will explode during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday when many travel and head to their hometowns.

Earlier in the day, Safety Minister Jeon Hae-cheol confirmed Omicron is now the most dominant strain in South Korea, representing 50.3 percent of new cases last week.

The government said it plans to focus efforts on early detection of coronavirus among high risk groups and boosting testing.


▶ SUFFERERS OF VAX SIDE EFFECTS EXEMPT FROM PASS SYSTEM

People who have been hospitalized for COVID vaccine side effects, such as anaphylaxis and myocarditis, will be exempt from the government's vaccine pass system.

From today, relevant individuals can get a certificate of exemption issued via the KDCA's COOV smartphone app, or by visiting a community health center.

The certificate can be presented to access public spaces, including places deemed "high risk."

▶ PANDEMIC WORSENS GLOBAL NURSE SHORTAGE

International nursing organizations are warning in a report that a chronic shortage of nurses around the world has been made worse by the pandemic.

The BBC's Imogen Foulkes reports.

[Reporter]

Before the pandemic even started, the world was short six million nurses due primarily to the underfunding of health systems and difficulties recruiting new staff into a profession where pay is often low and hours long.

Now, the new report says the relentless pressure of two years of COVID-19 is causing an avalanche of resignations.

Combine that with nurses due to retire and it's estimated that 13 million new nurses will be needed over the next decade.


▶ FAMILIES OF US PERSONNEL ORDERED TO LEAVE UKRAINE

The U.S. State Department has ordered the families of all American personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine to leave the country amid heightened fears of a Russian invasion.

The department told the dependents of staffers at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv on Sunday that they must leave the country, while non-essential embassy staff could also leave Ukraine at government expense, according to a report by the AP.

The move came amid rising tensions about Russia's military buildup on the Ukraine border that were not eased during talks Friday between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva.





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