Asia Minute: Virus spiking sharply in South Korea and especially Seoul
While pandemic restrictions are easing around the islands, they may be headed the other way in South Korea. COVID-19 cases have been spiking in that country, and government leaders are especially concerned about the capital city.
Earlier this week, the number of daily COVID-19 cases in South Korea hit a new record.
More than 4,100 new cases were reported Wednesday — that’s the highest number since South Korea’s first case of the novel coronavirus in January 2020.
Today that number dropped back below 4,000 — but it remains near those record highs.
Health officials say nearly 80% of the new cases come from the greater Seoul area.
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum told reporters Wednesday that the capital area needs to be ready to “activate an emergency response plan at any time.”
The Central Disaster Management Headquarters reports more than 86% of intensive care unit beds in Seoul are now occupied — with fewer than 50 left in the entire city.
The government began easing restrictions at the start of this month — under a three-phase program it calls “living with COVID-19.”
Original plans were to move to a second phase in the middle of next month — but the government says that may be delayed.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency says a little more than 79% of the country’s population has been fully vaccinated.
This Asia Minute aired on Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021.