Korea: Country once hailed for COVID response now struggling to contain Delta surge

24-Jul-2021 Intellasia | Yahoo News UK | 5:02 AM Print This Post

South Korea has reported its highest-ever number of daily COVID-19 cases as the country once lauded for its handling of the pandemic struggles with a new wave of the Delta variant.

On Thursday, South Korea reported a daily record of 1,842 coronavirus cases, with the recent days all breaking previous records.

Authorities are considering expanding the restrictions imposed for the capital Seoul and neighbouring areas last week, as small clusters continue to emerge nationwide.

Almost 65 percent of the nation’s recent cases have been recorded in Seoul.

South Korea’s total infections now stand at 184,103 cases with 2,063 deaths, still far lower than the UK and many European countries.

What’s gone wrong?

The highly contagious nature of the Delta variant has caught authorities off guard, with large events only recently being cancelled or subject to limitations.

The most recent data suggests just over 40 percent of all cases in the country are the Delta variant.

Cases began soaring at the end of June and have shown no sign of slowing down.

The latest daily number of cases also includes at least 270 sailors on an anti-piracy navy destroyer patrolling the waters off Africa who were flown home on Tuesday after being infected with COVID-19.

The country initially avoided any lockdowns after employing an aggressive track and trace policy but now the focus of the world has moved onto vaccinations South Korea has fallen behind.

Just over 13 percent of the 52 million population have been fully vaccinated, with 32 percent having had at least one dose.

New distancing curbs introduced two weeks ago haven’t been effective in containing the virus spread as the summer season has contributed to higher infections in beach vacation spots.

More measures are expected to be announced over the weekend.

Despite the record number of cases, South Korea has seen no significant increase in hospitalisations or deaths, with a mortality rate of 1.13 percent and the number of severe cases at 214 as of Tuesday.

How did South Korea avoid lockdown in the first place?

At the start of the pandemic, South Korea was celebrated for its success in keeping cases low without needing a lockdown or fully closing its borders.

The country managed to flatten the curve by developing clear guidelines for the public, conducting comprehensive and aggressive testing and contact tracing, as well as supporting people in quarantine to make compliance easier.

South Korea also successfully managed further outbreaks in the summer and winter of 2020.

At the centre of their success was their test and trace system which employed hundreds of people from the start of the pandemic.

Once a person had been identified they were legally required to isolate but the government provided food and financial support to the people in isolation.

Tracing officers were also empowered with access to personal data, like credit card information, when it came to tracking down an individual.

The UK and many countries chose not to use all of a person’s personal data to track them down over fears it would infringe on a person’s privacy too much.



Category: Korea

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