South Korea’s COVID cases decline slightly amid Omicron’s focus

Daily coronavirus cases in South Korea have fallen below five thousand for the first time in twenty days as the government continues efforts to contain the new, highly mutated variant of Omicron.

The East Asian nation added about four thousand two hundred new COVID-19 infections on Monday, bringing the total number of cases to nearly six hundred and eleven thousand, according to the latest data compiled by the Korea Control Agency. and disease prevention (KDCA).

As for the new Omicron variant, the country has reported sixty-nine new cases, bringing the total to four hundred and forty-five.

In addition, the number of critically ill COVID-19 patients fell to one thousand and seventy-eight from one thousand one hundred and five on Saturday. There were also fifty-five additional deaths, bringing the total to five thousand three hundred during the nearly two-year pandemic.

Cluster infections on the rise

Meanwhile, the Yonhap News Agency reported that COVID-19 cluster infections continued to rise in children’s educational institutions in Seoul, the city government noted on Monday.

Authorities have confirmed that as many as two hundred and seventy children have tested positive for the virus last week alone, which were linked to clusters of infection located in daycares, kindergartens and other facilities. teaching.

Pfizer Approved Oral Drug

In an effort to curb the growing number of Omicron cases and cluster infections, South Korea’s Food and Medicines Ministry on Monday decided to issue emergency clearance for Paxlovid, Pfizer’s oral pill. for COVID-19, which could be available to the public as early as the end of January. . The government has obtained enough doses for about six hundred thousand people and has indicated that it is seeking more.

“As the number of COVID-19 patients and critically ill patients has increased, we have been looking extensively at the need to introduce pills that patients can take on their own, reviewing the safety and efficacy of the drug and the results of a meeting of an expert committee. “Kim Kang-lip, head of the Food and Drug Safety Ministry, said at a press briefing Monday, according to the Korea Herald.

Health and Welfare Minister Kwon Deok-cheol added during the briefing that “Clinical demonstrations show Pfizer’s oral drug shows 90% prevention rate of hospitalizations and deaths of COVID patients- 19 ”.

According to the Korea Times, Chon Eun-mi, a respiratory disease specialist at Ewha Womans University Mokdong Hospital, saw the pills as another step forward in the long battle against the pandemic.

“Given its high efficacy demonstrated in clinical trials, ease of shipping, storage and administration, if used with the right strategy, oral pills will go a long way to help the country cope with the drug crisis. COVID-19, ”she said.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based science and technology writer who has held positions at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow him or contact him on LinkedIn.

Image: Reuters

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