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S. Korean experts voice worry over COVID-19 resurgence in autumn

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© Provided by Xinhua

An official with the Ministry of Health and Welfare said the lifting of the social-distancing guidelines does not represent an end to the pandemic. South Korea reported 81,058 more COVID-19 cases as of midnight Thursday.

SEOUL, April 23 (Xinhua) — South Korean experts have voiced worry about a new wave of the COVID-19 resurgence in autumn here following the lifting of social-distancing guidelines earlier this week.

The government decided to lift all anti-virus measures, including a business curfew and a cap on private gatherings, from April 18 except for the mask mandate.

Son Young-rae, an official with the Ministry of Health and Welfare, told a press briefing on Monday that the lifting of the social-distancing guidelines does not represent an end to the pandemic.

Son said he was worried that the lifting may mislead people to think that it is time to return to complete normalcy, asking them to manage personal hygiene well.

South Korea reported 81,058 more COVID-19 cases as of midnight Thursday compared to 24 hours ago, data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) showed Friday.

© Provided by Xinhua

The daily caseload was down from 90,867 the previous day and far lower than 125,827 tallied a week earlier.

Despite the Omicron-driven peak, experts remained cautious of another resurgence here later this year.

Jeong Eun-ok, a math professor at Konkuk University, told a forum hosted by the KDCA on Wednesday that a new wave of the pandemic could break out as early as November.

Jeong said it would be significant to maximize vaccinations and keep the social-distancing rules in place, forecasting that the absence of the fourth-dose vaccination could raise the number of deaths to 2,700 in the autumn resurgence.

If the fourth shots are administered to 12 million people, the number of deaths could fall to 700, Jeong estimated.

According to the late tally, 86.8 percent of the country’s 52 million population has received two doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with the figure for those getting booster jabs reaching 64.4 percent.

© Provided by Xinhua

The number of those in their 60s or higher, who are subject to the fourth dose of vaccines, stood at 578,960, or 4.2 percent of the age group.

Jeong Jae-hoon, a professor of preventive medicine at Gachon University, told the forum that a new wave may take place in the second half as the BA.2 can continue to be a dominant variant for 10 to 14 weeks before the emergence of a new variant.

From next Monday, people will be allowed here to have food indoors in multiuse facilities such as religious and indoor sports venues, movie theaters, concert halls, private cram schools and shops.

The government will adjust the four-tier infectious disease level of COVID-19 from Class 1 to Class 2 in phases over a four-week period to allow patients to be treated at local clinics and hospitals without quarantine as early as May 23.

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