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South Korea expects to see daily COVID-19 cases near 7-thousand on Thursday, yet again Updated: 2021-12-09 05:30:10 KST

We start with the COVID-19 situation in South Korea.
We're expecting to see the number of new daily infections remain around 7-thousand, for the second day in a row.
Given the shrap uptick in cases, authorities have again said they'll examine implementing stricter virus prevention measures.
For more on this and other related updates,.. joining us is our reporter Shin Ye-eun, Good morning

Good morning.

Ye-eun, yesterday we saw the highest COVID-19 tally here in the country. What are we expecting today?

Thursday's daily infections will probably be around 7-thousand, again.
Up to 9 pm on Wednesday, we saw 5-thousand 1-hundred 14 new cases.
This was 5-hundred 90 down from the day beforebut the second largest number reported during this time frame.

After Wednesday's record number of infections, authorities are looking at an emergency plan known as a "circuit breaker." This would would further strengthen virus prevention measures. Do we know when this will happen?

At the moment no.
What we know so far is that they are monitoring when this circuit breaker should be implemented.
If you recall, at the beginning of November, authorities said they would introduce an emergency exit plan to halt the "gradual return to normal" scheme if the pandemic situation seemed too dangerous.
Some measures discussed as part of the emergency planincludedrestricting business operation hours and gatherings at high-risk facilities.
While an emergency plan hasn't yet been deemed necessary, authorities have introduced new measures to help with the crippling medical capacity problem.
ICU beds for critically ill patients have been quickly running short.
As of Wednesday, more than 84 percent of all beds in the greater capital area were being used, and nearly 70 percent of beds in other regions were occupied.
For that reason authorities said they would make treating patients at home an easier and more convenient option.
The mandatory quarantine period for family members or those living with virus patients opting for self-treatment at home will be reduced from 10 days to 7 days as long as they're fully vaccinated.
They also said financial aid would be given based on the number of people in each household.
Oral COVID-19 medication will also be given to those in the high-risk category being treated at home, from early next year.

The pandemic situation is also worsening in other parts of the world with more on the alert since the appearance of the Omicron variant.
Though we need more time to see how serious this strain is, what do we know so far?

The WHO has given their backing to a popular theory that Omicron seems to be more transmissible, but less severe than other variants.
Emergencies director Michael Ryan said in an interview with AFP that preliminary data doesn't show Omicron to be a more severe disease than other variantslike Delta.
The organization's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also cited studies from South Africa that found people who contracted the Omicron variant faced much milder symptoms than those who were infected by the Delta variant.
He also urged governments to speed up vaccination programs and strengthen their virus prevention measures.
Take a listen to what the director-general said on Wednesday.

"All governments should re-assess and revise their national plans based on the current situation and their national capacities, accelerate vaccine coverage in the most at risk populations in all countries, intensify efforts to drive transmission down and keep it down with a tailored mix of public health measures, scale up surveillance, testing and sequencing and share samples with the international community and avoid ineffective and discriminatory travel bans."

Some good news now. Some studies showing existing vaccines are effective against this new variant?

Yes, indeed.
Pfizer has found their vaccine to be effective.
On Wednesday they shared results from a laboratory test.
A three-shot course of their vaccine turned out to increase neutralizing antibodies by 25-fold, compared to just two-doses.
Which indicated that two doses might not be sufficient enough against Omicron, whereas a booster jab is.
But, a chief scientist from the WHO warned that we shouldn't make any hasty conclusions from this test.
The scientist said that it was way too soon to determine whether reducing neutralizing antibodies meant the shot was less effective.
The WHO is set to publish a review of its stance on the efficacy of booster shots against the Omicron variant within a few days.

Alright, thank you Ye-eun for your report. We will see you on Friday.
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