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Despite eased restrictions, new virus cases stay around 10Koreans complain of ‘quarantine fatigue’ but will comply with distancing during holidays
  • By Shim Hyun-tai
  • Published 2020.04.28 12:52
  • Updated 2020.04.29 13:09
  • comments 0

Korea reported 14 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total to 10,752, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.

Among the additional cases, 12 were imported infections, increasing the number of foreign inflows to 1,056. Hospitals have cured and discharged 8,764 patients, up 90 from a day earlier. One more person died of the coronavirus, pushing up the death toll to 244 and maintaining the fatality rate at 2.2 percent.

Tuesday marked the 100th day since Korea reported the first outbreak of the new coronavirus on Jan. 20. The daily confirmed cases reached a peak of 909 on newly confirmed patients on Feb. 29, and have since been on a slide to around 10 recently.

At a daily briefing, Vice Minister of Health and Welfare Minister Kim Kang-lip said that the upcoming holiday is a pivotal period for Korea to shift to social distancing while maintaining normal activities, emphasizing the importance of following preventive measures. “Many people will likely make a trip or get together between April 30 and May 5, increasing the possibility of infections as the distance among people gets closer,” Kim noted.

Although the social distancing system continues and the fatigue kicks in, a survey showed that the majority of the public would keep distancing in the coming holiday.

According to the survey conducted by Saramin HR, a recruitment platform, 79.7 percent of 3,725 adult respondents answered that they feel “quarantine fatigue” from the stringent social distancing regime. The multiple-choice survey indicated that wearing masks for a long time was the most tiring factor as 68.8 percent of the respondents pointed out.

However, 77.6 percent of the repliers said that social distancing is necessary for ending the Covid-19 pandemic.

To know a more precise number of “silently” infected people without showing any symptoms and sound out the possibility of forming herd immunity, the public health authorities are working out detailed ways to introduce “antibody tests.”

Antibodies are evidence of immunity after infection by viruses. Testing antibodies can be a measure to know whether or not herd immunity has been formed. Herd immunity is an immunological concept that when a certain percentage of members of a group are infected, the entire group reaches a point where it gains resistance to the virus. Experts believe that more than 60 percent of members of communities must have antibodies to form herd immunity for Covid-19.

As the KCDC speeds up for antibody testing, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has also included the antibody test method in the guidelines for reviewing in-vitro diagnostic kits for Covid-19.

“The actual number of infected people is not known until all citizens are examined, and, therefore, a serum epidemiological test is necessary to confirm all the patients, including the asymptomatic ones,” Professor Kim Woo-joo of the Department of Infectious Disease at Korea University Guro Hospital said.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly’s special committee for budget and accounts held a meeting to speed up providing relief funds of 14.3 trillion won ($11.7 billion) to coronavirus-hit working families with Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun and Deputy Prime Minister Hong Nam-ki attending.

The nation tested 608,514 suspected patients and saw 599,311 results. Among the tested, 588,559 showed a negative response to the test, but the 9,203 tested people are waiting for their test result. The cumulative confirmation rate remains at 1.8 percent.


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