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'Omicron may become dominant in S. Korea this weekend': Authorities Updated: 2022-01-18 06:00:16 KST

Omicron has been spreading rapidly in South Korea, with figures more than doubling over the past week.
Authorities say that the country may see this variant become the dominant strain before in a matter of days.
With the strain making its presense known, South Korea may once again confirm close to 4-thousand new cases on Tuesday morning.

For more COVID-19 related updates here in South Korea and the world, we have our COVID-19 correspondent Kim Yeon-seung in the studio. Yeon-seung welcome back.

Good morning

So brief us on where South Korea stands right now.
What are health authorities most concerned about at the moment?

The latest concerns lie with Omicron.
Omicron infections have more than doubled in the past week.
Health authorities combed out almost 2,700 new Omicron infections in a week, which made up around 27 percent of the sampled domestic cases.
It's quite a steep jump up, considering that Omicron cases jumped from 1.8 percent in the fourth week of December to 12.5 percent in just two weeks, and now it's at 27 percent.
The health minister said Monday that Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency's analytical model shows Omicron will become the dominant strain by this weekend.

How is it affecting the domestic tally of infections?

Infections seemed to slow down towards the end of last month, but recently it's looking like it's softly bouncing back with Omicron fueling the spread.
South Korea reported 3,334 new infections by Monday 9 PM.
That's 10 cases fewer than the same time Sunday, but more than 600 higher than the on-week report.
The Tuesday official tally may border close to 4-thousand.
Officials on Monday judged South Korea and its capital region to now be at 'moderate risk' of COVID, with more ICU beds available and less pressure on medical capacity.

Are other countries also seeing similar trends where Omicron is driving up their cases?

Well, yes and no.
Japan, for example, is seeing a resurgence.
The country reported near 21-thousand cases on Monday evening, the highest logged since August last year.
It's also the first time they've reported more than 20-thousand cases on a Monday, when fewer cases are generally reported due to the lower test load over the weekend.
The country is currently looking to put Tokyo and 10 other prefectures under a quasi-state of emergency, which would limit business hours and serving alcohol.
The U.S., on the other hand, have seen around 800-thousand daily cases for four days straight.
The latest trend does show a relatively dampened spread of the virus in the country, but hospitalizations still remain high.
More than 155-thousand people had been hospitalized due to COVID-19 as of Sunday local time.
But the UK is showing a drastically different side to Omicron.
They're looking like they've already passed through the peak of infections.
The country's daily cases recently dropped to 70-thousand, the lowest since mid-December, and less than a third of their peak figures, which stood at 220-thousand.
Officials there are now looking to ease some of their COVID curbs.

Let's talk about vaccinations and treatment.
Any new developments there?

Well, hopeful news both on the treatment and vaccination front.
Moderna is aiming to market a single shot that will protect against both COVID-19 and the flu within two years.
If this happens by 2023, people would need only a single booster every winter to prevent COVID and the flu, without the hassle of getting two to three shots annually for the circulating diseases.
As for treatment, Paxlovid, has so far, brought good news.
Health authorities said Monday that 39 people in South Korea have been treated with Pfizer's oral treatment, since roll out, and none of them have reported any side effects.. with most their conditions improving.
Israel, which took the lead in the use of Paxlovid, also reported somewhat optimistic results, and said Monday that 92 percent of the pill's recipients showed improvement in three days, while 6 percent had to stop mid-treatment due to side effects.

Thank you for that report, Yeon-seung.
We'll see you back here tomorrow.
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