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Those with positive Professional RAT no longer need PCR test to be eligible for COVID-19 medical care (physician consultation, diagnosis, prescription)

  • Date : 2022-03-17
  • Hit : 886

Those with positive Professional RAT no longer need PCR test to be eligible for COVID-19 medical care (physician consultation, diagnosis, prescription)
전문가용 신속항원검사 양성 시 추가 PCR 검사 없이도 바로 진료/상담/처방 실시

Mar 8, 2022

The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters (headed by Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum) held a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Kim today at the video conference room of Government Complex Seoul with the central ministries, 17 major local governments, and 18 metropolitan and provincial police agencies to discuss measures to more effectively identify infections using RATs, etc., ways to realign the inbound traveler management system, and the current status of local governments’ COVID-19 response.

[1] Improvement of the Rapid Antigen Testing Scheme

The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters discussed measures to more effectively identify infections using rapid antigen tests, etc., based on the related report from the Central Disease Control Headquarters (headed by KDCA Commissioner Jeong Eun Kyeong).

Temporarily for a one-month period starting March 14, those who test positive with emergency PCR tests and symptomatic individuals who test positive with professional rapid antigen tests may, based on professional judgment of the physician in charge, be considered equivalent to patients with confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis and thus eligible for COVID-19 medical care.

This measure was taken in consideration of the fact that the diagnostic performance of RTAs had considerably increased with the recent surge in COVID-19 prevalence.

* The rate of those who tested positive in RATs and in subsequent PCR testing as well stood at 94.7% based on a survey of 76 respiratory system clinics.

As such, those who test positive in RATs performed at community clinics are not required to visit public health centers, etc., for PCR testing and become immediately eligible for physician consultation/diagnosis/prescription at community clinics.

RATs are performed at 7,588 easily accessible respiratory system clinics and healthcare providers designated for respiratory system examinations nationwide. The nearest clinic can be checked on the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service website or the COVID-19 website operated by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

Those who test positive in RATs are given guidance on self-isolation and precautions are given by respective clinics on site and placed under self-isolation and at-home treatment immediately.

Those aged 60 and older who test positive with professional RATs can be prescribed the oral treatment (Paxlovid).

Upon reporting on those who test positive in RATs by respective clinics, public health centers promptly proceed with administrative procedures for issuing self-isolation notifications, performing related investigations, and classifying patients.

The Central Disease Control Headquarters (headed by KDCA Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong) expects this measure to notably reduce the wait time for PCR testing, prevent delays in patient management due to administrative procedures, and enable prompt patient care for confirmed cases.

The oral treatment is prescribed to high-risk groups including those aged 60 and older in the initial stage to prevent the aggravation of severity.

For unvaccinated children aged 11 and younger, fast-track examinations and treatment by pediatric specialists, as well as face-to-face outpatient services and inpatient care at hub hospitals dedicated to pediatric patients with COVID-19, are offered to ensure their safety.

As the need for those who test positive in RATs to visit PCR testing sites is eliminated, the risk of the further transmission can be curbed.

In addition, reduced demand for PCR testing is expected to ensure the convenience of suspected cases requiring PCR testing with priority, including those at vulnerable facilities and co-living household member of confirmed cases.

[2] Realignment of the Inbound Traveler Management System

The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters discussed the measures to realign the inbound traveler management system submitted by the Central Disease Control Headquarters (headed by KDCA Commissioner Jeong Eun Kyeong).

From Mar. 21 onwards, those who have completed vaccinations (overseas or in Korea) and registered their vaccination records domestically will be exempt from the seven-day quarantine, which has been required of all inbound travelers since the emergence of the Omicron variant. This exemption from quarantine will also be applied to those fully vaccinated overseas but unregistered domestically from Apr. 1 onwards.

Those eligible for exemption from quarantine based on this change are the fully vaccinated within the validity period (at least 14 days but no more than 180 days from the administration of the second dose in a two-dose series and a single dose for Janssen) as well as those given a third dose based on the guidelines for the vaccines approved by WHO for emergency use (Attachment 1).

As for those who have completed vaccinations overseas, they will be considered equivalent to those with vaccination records domestically registered if their vaccination status is verified via Q-Code*.

* The pilot operation (Feb.) of this system that requires inbound travelers to enter the negative PCR test result, vaccination completion certificate, quarantine exemption form, and health condition questionnaire online prior to entry confirmed that it notably reduces the length of time and procedures for entry.

The prior input system, scheduled to be applied to all arriving flights at Incheon International Airport, will be initiated on Mar. 21 for vaccination status verification at the point of entry.

The information of those who have completed vaccinations in Korea or have registered their vaccination records domestically will be automatically connected to COOV (Covid-19 vaccination status verification system), which is linked with the prior input system.

Those fully vaccinated whose vaccination records are unregistered domestically and thus are unverified must directly enter their vaccination records and attach the required certificates on the prior input system to acquire eligibility for exemption from quarantine from Apr. 1 onwards.

* Those unvaccinated are placed under quarantine as instructed currently (Korean nationals and foreigners with long-term visa under self-quarantine and foreigners with short-term visa under facility quarantine)

The requirement to use infection control transportation means (private vehicles, infection control taxis, and infection control cars on KTX) after entry is also scrapped as of Apr. 1 to ease the burden of local governments, etc., and all inbound travelers will be allowed to use public transportation.

While all inbound travelers are required to undergo three rounds of diagnostic testing at present (prior to entry, 1 day after entry, and 6-7 days after entry), it was streamlined (as of Mar. 10) to replace the third round of testing with an RAT*.

* Those required of self-quarantine and those exempt from quarantine may choose between self-diagnostic testing and RATs at a healthcare provider or screening station. Those subject to facility quarantine are required to undergo PCR testing.

However, inbound travelers from high-risk countries* are still placed under quarantine regardless of their vaccination status based on country-specific infection control risks.

* All inbound travelers from Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Myanmar, including the fully vaccinated, are required to quarantine themselves upon arrival.

Infection control measures concerning the expansion in flight connections, the number of flights, and visa issuance will be eased step-by-step in consideration of the projected increase in passenger traffic.

The government announced that, while lifting restrictions for inbound travelers, it will closely interact with relevant ministries to monitor the possible emergence of a new variant and quickly re-implement such restrictions if it is deemed necessary to block its spread.

[3] Expansion of Crematoriums in Response to Excess Mortality

Due to excess mortality, it has become increasingly difficult to make reservations for crematoriums and complete cremations within three days after death.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare (hereinafter referred to as MOHW) identifies excess winter deaths and the increase in COVID-19-related deaths due to the spread of the Omicron variant as the major causes.

The analysis of the average daily cremations over the last three years (2018-2020) indicates that the number of cremations has drastically increased since December last year.

The average daily cremations from Mar. 1 to Mar. 9 reach 1,027, an increase by 308 from the average daily cremations for March over the period of 2018-2020.

Average daily






Recent three years (2018~2020)















* Average daily COVID-19 deaths (Mar. 1-9) reaching 153.6

As such, the rate of the deceased unable to be cremated within three days after death has continued to increase (82.6% in Dec. 2021 → 85.3% in Jan. 2022 → 77.9% in Feb. → 47.4% in Mar. as of Mar. 9).

* The rate of the deceased cremated on the third day from death in 2021 stood at 86.4%.

MOHW requested the extension of operating hours and daily services and the operation of reserve furnaces of 60 public crematorium nationwide on Mar. 4 to resolve the issue.

While each existing furnace provided 3.3 services per day on average (1,000 cremations), the number of average daily service will be extended to 4.3 to complete up to 1,300 cremations per day.

In the mid-to-long term, measures will be taken to build additional facilities and improve operating efficiency to more effectively respond to increasing demand.


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