JAKARTADAILY.ID - The number of new coronavirus cases in South Korea has surpassed 8,000 for the first time as the highly contagious Omicron variant spreads quickly despite the recent extension of strict social-distancing rules to slow down the infection, Reuters reported Tuesday.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 8,571 cases, surpassing the previous high of 7,848 cases in mid-December, despite the fact that more than 95 percent of South Korean people have been fully vaccinated, with roughly 58 percent has received a booster dose.
The number of Omicron infections had nearly halved to roughly 4,000 cases this month, reaching their second-highest level on Saturday. This number is expected to rise due to the Lunar New Year holidays when tens of millions of Koreans travel across the country to see their families and the number could reach 20,000 to 30,000 or even higher.
On Monday, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum issued a special statement urging citizens to avoid traveling and gatherings over the break, which begins this Saturday.
"It is no different to adding fuel to the raging flames if many people move around the country and meet each other," said PM Boo at a press conference.
The mandated isolation period for vaccinated patients will be shortened from ten days to seven days as part of measures to save medical capacity for the critically ill on Wednesday.
South Korea has also implemented one of the region's strictest vaccine pass laws, allowing unvaccinated people to only eat alone or order takeout or delivery, making the small business owner react angrily and plan to shave their heads in protest of the government's restrictions, which include a 9 p.m. dining ban, and to demand compensation for their economic losses.