▶ S. KOREA GRAPPLES WITH NEW OMICRON SURGE
South Korea has reported over 13,000 new coronavirus cases, marking the highest daily tally since it confirmed its first patient more than 2 years ago.
In recent weeks, local transmissions have surged, fueled by the extremely contagious Omicron variant, which has become dominant in the country.
Rosyn Park has the latest.
The KDCA and other health authorities had warned for weeks that the global spread of Omicron would eventually hit South Korea.
And now new infections have reached record highs.
▶ KDCA LOGS 13,012 NEW CASES IN A DAY
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said today that from now and moving forward, the main goal of the government's antivirus response will be to reduce critical cases and deaths.
Last month, COVID ICUs were packed at emergency levels, with some patients forced to wait at home until they could be admitted.
But with the expansion of more COVID hospitals, beds and medical personnel, the health system has stabilized.
Experts predict, however, that cases could rise to 30,000 a day in the next few weeks, and authorities fear that means they will see more severe and fatal cases.
▶ QUARANTINE RULES ADJUSTED TO CURB COVID SPREAD
The government has implemented a new testing and treatment regime designed to minimize disruptions amid the fast spread of omicron.
The quarantine period for people who test positive for COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated against the virus has been reduced to seven days.
Fully vaccinated means no more than 90 days have passed since the second dose or 14 days have passed since the third dose of a vaccine.
Fully vaccinated individuals who come into close contact with confirmed coronavirus patients will not be placed in isolation.
But they will be required to report their daily health conditions to officials before receiving a PCR test within six or seven days.
Those who are not fully vaccinated are required to self-isolate for seven days if designated close contacts of a virus carrier and 10 days if they themselves test positive.
▶ VULNERABLE GROUPS GET PRIORITY FOR PCR TESTS
COVID-19 screening has also been streamlined, with PCR tests prioritized for high risk groups such as the elderly, while those who are asymptomatic get rapid antigen tests.
The new testing process is first being applied in Gwangju, South Jeolla Province, and the cities of Pyeongtaek and Anseong in Gyeonggi Province, where Omicron infection rates have been the highest, and will expand nationwide on Saturday.
▶ WHO: OMICRON RISK REMAINS VERY HIGH
The World Health Organization says the risk level related to the Omicron variant remains very high.
In its weekly epidemiological coronavirus update, it noted that over 21 million new cases were reported last week, representing the highest number of weekly cases recorded since the beginning of the pandemic.
The report said Omicron continued to increase its dominance globally over the other variants of concern.
▶ BIDEN WARNS PUTIN OF SANCTIONS OVER UKRAINE
U.S. President Joe Biden says he is prepared to impose personal sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin if his country invades Ukraine.
Biden said the repercussions would be felt worldwide.
"There will be enormous consequences if you were to go in and invade, as he could, the entire country for Russia not only in terms of economic consequences and political consequences but there will be enormous consequences worldwide. This would be the largest, if he were to move in, with all those forces, it would be the largest invasion since World War II.It would change the world."
Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org / copyright © tbs. Unauthorized redistribution prohibited.