On Thursday 16th December, South Korea announced that it will be reintroducing tough Covid-19 restrictions just two months after they were reduced under a “living with Covid-19” policy. This is due to a recent surge in infections in the country, despite the population being highly vaccinated.
After a mass vaccination campaign earlier this year that led to a surge in vaccination rates, authorities eased covid restrictions. As a result of the vaccine drive, between 92-94% of adults in the country are reportedly fully vaccinated, and more than 15% have received booster jabs.
However, the high vaccination rate has caused the country’s worst Covid-19 outbreak since the start of the pandemic. Breakthrough cases are surging and spreading like wildfire, with the number of new cases surging almost five times higher than the previous record and the number of serious infections has tripled since the beginning of the vaccine program.
On Wednesday 15th December, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 7,622 new cases of coronavirus. This comes just one day after the country reported a new record-high daily count of 7,850 cases.
Additionally, the number of severe cases has also increased to a record-high of 989. 87% of intensive care units in the Seoul metropolitan area are reported to be occupied, and around 81% of intensive care units nationwide are used.
On Monday 13th December, it was reported that the daily death toll in South Korea hit its highest level, with 94 new Covid-19 deaths.
KDCA Commissioner Dr. Jeong Eun-kyeong warned that the number of new daily cases could go above 10,000 this month and over 20,000 in Jan 2022.