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Social distancing restrictions to be lifted starting April 18

  • Date : 2022-04-21
  • Hit : 1114

Social distancing restrictions to be lifted starting April 18

418일부터 사회적 거리두기 해제

PRESS RELEASE

April 15, 2022

On April 15, South Korea announced that it will be lifting most of the social distancing measures in place.

The COVID-19 Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters (CDSCH) was convened in Seoul with ministries, municipal governments, and city/province police agencies to discuss post-Omicron response plans, adjustment to social distancing policy, and the current state of COVID-19 and measures being taken. Based on the discussions and various assessment and considerations, CDSCH decided to lift all social distancing measures except for indoor and outdoor masking.

ASSESSMENT AND CONSIDERATIONS

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached its peak in the third week of March and started to decline since then. For the past 3 weeks, the number of new confirmed cases has been stable.

* Number of confirmed cases on Fridays for the past 4 weeks:

339,443 (Mar. 25) 280,201 (Apr. 1) 205,281 (Apr. 8) 125,832 (Apr. 15)

The number of severe/critical cases and deaths is also declining. The rate of decline has been gradual over the past weeks.

* Number of hospitalizations of severe/critical patients: 1,255 (5th week of March) 1,113 (1st week of April) 999 (as of April 15)

* Number of deaths per week: 2,516 (4th week of March) 2,312 (5th week of March) 2,163 (1st week of April)

During the Omicron wave, government response efforts focused on active vaccination campaigns, timely introduction and administration of oral antiviral treatment, and timely transition to a health system focusing on providing appropriate care to high-risk population, in order to keep the wave under control by protecting populations vulnerable to serious illness by COVID-19 infection while minimizing socioeconomic impact of the pandemic. As of April 15, the number of cumulative COVID-19 deaths is 38.1 per 0.1m population, with a case fatality rate of 0.13%.

The second-dose vaccination rate is 86.8% and the third-dose (first booster) vaccination rate is 64.3%. The third-dose vaccination rate among people aged 60 and above is 89.3%.

As of April 14, oral COVID-19 treatments have been secured for around 1.06 million patients. Enough treatment courses for 724,000 patients have been imported to Korea, and about 220,000 patients have been administered with the medication.

For high risk groups including people aged 60 and above, prescription of oral antiviral medication was made available immediately upon positive result of rapid antigen tests administered by health professionals at local neighborhood clinics and hospitals, to ensure early diagnosis and treatment and to prevent development of more serious illness for the infected.

The overall health system capacity is stabilizing, with the bed utilization rate for critically ill patients declining over the past weeks, and the current wave is assessed to be under control overall.

* Bed utilization rate for critically ill patients: 62.8% (5th week of March) 58.3% (1st week of April) 49.9% (as of April 15)

* Bed utilization rate for moderately ill patients: 43.3% (5th week of March) 37.5% (1st week of April) 29.6% (as of April 15)

[ Weekly COVID-19 Statistics ]

Weekly

(Sun Sat)

Daily average number of confirmed cases

Reproduction number

(R)

Severity

Bed utilization (%)

Total

% aged 60 or above

% aged 18 or below

Aged 60 or above

Hospitalizations (critical/severe)

Deaths

Critical/severe

Moderate

Residential treatment centers

Apr 3-9

218,500

20.1%

22.8%

0.82

43,896

1,113

2,163

58.3

37.5

19.5

Mar 27 Apr 2

306,056

19.2%

24.7%

0.91

58,616

1,255

2,312

62.8

43.3

22.9

Mar 20-26

351,277

18.4%

25.9%

1.01

64,588

1,097

2,516

66.3

43.2

25.1

Mar 13-19

404,604

17.8%

25.1%

1.29

72,010

1,133

1,957

65.9

47.2

29.2

The effectiveness of social distancing measures are assessed to have been reduced due to the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, compared to the previous Delta wave.

[ Expected effect of social distancing rule change on number of cases ]

(joint analysis by KCDC-KIST)

(During Delta wave) The number of confirmed cases is expected to increase by 97% if the business hour curfew is extended by 1 hour from 9 PM to 10 PM (as of December 25)

(During Omicron wave) The number of confirmed cases is expected to increase by 10-20% even with restrictions on private gatherings and business curfew relaxed (as of March 31)

Also, the continued implementation of social distancing for around four months since December 2021 has led to an accumulation of social distancing fatigue among the public.

With the Omicron wave subsiding, there is an increasing anticipation for relaxation of social distancing rules and declining public acceptance of social distancing measures.

Barring significant unexpected changes to the current trend, such as emergence of a new variant of concern, it is expected that the COVID-19 caseload will continue to be stable for some time.

Significantly, the recent decline was observed amidst a gradual lifting of social distancing measures.

ADJUSTED SOCIAL DISTANCING POLICY

Based on various scientific and socioeconomic considerations presented in the New Normal Recovery Support Committee including health experts, civic representatives, affected industries, and municipalities, most of the current social distancing measures will be lifted in light of the stability of the health system and the downward trend in the number of cases.

The measures to be lifted include restrictions on business hours, private gatherings, social events and assemblies (up to 299 persons), others (religious activities, indoor food consumption, etc.).

[ Social distancing rules effective from April 4 to April 17 ]

(Business hours) Until 24:00 (midnight) (for 13 types of facilities including nightclubs, restaurants and cafes, karaoke rooms, and public baths)

(Private gatherings) Up to 10 persons

(Social events and assemblies) Up to 299 persons for large scale events

(Other) Up to 70% of facility capacity for religious activities, no indoor food consumption, etc.

The revised rules will apply from Monday, April 18 (exceptions noted below) and remain effective until further notice.

Restrictions on indoor food consumption will be lifted from April 25, after a one-week transition period to allow for preparation of appropriate measures to ensure public safety.

The current indoor and outdoor mask mandate (masking during assemblies, concerts, social events, or when 2m distance cannot be maintained in indoor or outdoor settings) will be maintained.

Any adjustment to the current mask mandate will be reviewed and discussed after two weeks, upon assessment of the developments following the adjustment of most of the social distancing rules.

PERSONAL HYGIENE RECOMMENDATIONS

With most social distancing rules being removed, the role of personal hygiene routines for infection prevention, such as hands washing, ventilation, and disinfection, will become more important. The current daily personal hygiene practice recommendations will be maintained. The public is asked to incorporate general hygiene practices in their routine for the health and safety of individuals and community.

[ 6 personal hygiene recommendations for infection prevention ]

(to be revised on April 25)

Get vaccinated

Wear a mask properly to cover your nose and mouth (KF80 or higher in “3C” (closed spaces, crowded places, and close contact) settings)

Wash hands with soap for 30 seconds (and sneeze into your elbow)

Ventilate indoor spaces at least 3 times a day (for 10 minutes each) and disinfect more than once a day

Minimize the size and time of private gatherings

If feeling sick, get tested, minimize contact with high-risk persons, and stay home

Protection of high-risk groups, including the unvaccinated and the elderly, is still a high priority. As such, the current public health measures will be maintained for high-risk facilities where people at higher risk from COVID-19 (i.e. case severity rate and case fatality rate) are accommodated.

The current measures for nursing homes and facilities, including preemptive COVID-19 tests for staff and patients, prohibition of unauthorized patient visits and physical contact with patients, and restrictions on leaving and staying away from nursing homes overnight, will remain in place for some time. Whether to ease such measures will be reviewed after assessing the COVID-19 situation.

Going forward, reintroduction of social distancing measures will be minimized as much as possible, although careful consideration will be made based on scientific evidence and social consensus if it is assessed that voluntary personal hygiene practices alone will not be sufficient for effective response, such as due to emergence of a new variant of concern or a winter season surge.

Factors and preconditions to be considered include high transmissibility, high fatality, a new variant of concern with characteristics affecting vaccine protection against severe illness and death.

// For inquiries contact Media Relations, Ministry of Health and Welfare

044-202-2047 or fairytale@korea.kr

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