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S. Korean gov't announces new virus response plan ahead of expected Omicron surge Updated: 2022-01-21 10:17:44 KST

With an Omicron surge coming up, South Korea is getting prepared.
The Prime Minister on Friday announced the government's plan for a faster and more efficient virus response.
First, the government will place self-testing kits for antigens at COVID-19 testing centers.

"PCR tests will be for high-risk groups only, so that'll speed up the process. Standing in long lines in this cold weather to get tested will become less frequent."

The government is also bringing local doctors and health clinics on board to participate in testing and treatment.
They're starting this system in regions that are seeing widespread outbreaks of Omicron, and will expand it nationwide if it proves to be a success.
Authorities are also strengthening border controls.
They'll enforce testing and isolation more strictly for arrivals.
Meanwhile, Pfizer's oral treatment, Paxlovid, has been cleared for use for people aged 60 and over.

"We are bringing down the minimum age of drug administration from 65 to 60, and expanding its use in nursing homes, care hospitals, and infectious disease hospitals.

The use of another COVID-19 treatment, Remdisivir, will also be expanded.
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has granted emergency use of Remdesivir, which is an antiviral medication to patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms.
This intravenous treatment had previously been used to treat to critically-ill patients only.
But health authorities widened its use to prevent mild cases from developing into severe illnesses.
They made this change after reviewing the results of clinical trials and by looking at the precedent set in Europe.
Kim Yeon-seung, Arirang News
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