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South Korea to extend social restrictions for another two weeks

Daily cases of omicron variant patients surge to 269, with 186 imported

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum (Yonhap)
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum (Yonhap)
South Korea will extend the current social distancing measures for another two weeks, and the youth vaccine pass will be applied from March 1, a top official said Friday.

“It is too early to be sure that we have overcome the crisis,” said Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum at the COVID-19 Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters meeting, explaining the plan to strengthen quarantine measures.

“In particular, it takes time to preemptively prepare before the highly transmissible omicron variant spreads in Korea in earnest,” Kim said.

Accordingly, restrictions on private gatherings to four people and 9 p.m. curfews on restaurants and cafes will continue until Jan. 16. The government will also strengthen quarantine management, such as mandatory quarantine passes for department stores and large discount stores.

The controversial youth vaccine pass will be subject to a month-long test run. Kim said, “The youth vaccine pass will be applied from March 1, when the new semester begins, but we will have a one-month test run period.”

Small business owners and self-employed people will have financial supports in advance. Kim said, “We will receive applications from 550,000 people and pay 5 million won ($4,200) first, and settle the compensation amount later when it is confirmed.”

As of Thursday midnight, the number of COVID-19 confirmed patients in Korea had increased by 4,875 from the previous day. The number of people infected with the omicron variant surged to 269, with 83 locally transmitted cases.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)
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