S. Korea could see up to 10,000 cases a day by late January: Expert
Updated: 2021-12-01 17:01:02 KST
As of today, South Korea reported the highest number of new infections of COVID-19 at over 5-thousand.
Some experts say that could rise to 10-thousand a day by January.
Kim Yeon-seung leads our coverage tonight.
South Korea on Wednesday reported an all-time high of 5,123 new cases, rising above the 5-thousand mark for the first time.
Critical cases also hit new highs, with 723 critically ill patients reported.
Almost 90 percent of ICU beds in the capital are now filled.
The country's medical capacity is already feeling the strain as it is, but one expert says that South Korea may see double Wednesday's tally in less than two months 10-thousand daily cases by late January, if there are no changes to the current prevention measures.
He added that because South Korea was relatively successful in its prevention efforts, the country could take a harder hit when COVID-19 restrictions loosen up.
"Countries in the West have seen much larger caseloads and spread so far. So they have a higher proportion of people who have gained immunity after being infected. But since we've relatively succeeded in staving off infections, the toll we might take in the future could be far greater."
Health authorities have said they will look into imposing extra measures in response to the latest surge.
"The government will discuss extra prevention measures on the size of private gatherings in the capital area, limiting unvaccinated guests in cafes, and expanding vaccine passes, and will announce its conclusion sometime this week."
But assuming that returning to previous restrictions is not on the cards, the expert said that vaccine protection and oral treatment remain key to battling this spread.
And that vaccine protection includes booster shots.
"22 percent of the eligible recipients or more than 3 million out of 14 million people, have received extra shots as of today."
From this Thursday, anyone aged 18 or over can reserve a top up shot if at least five months have elapsed since they completed getting their full-dose.
Authorities will also expand at-home recovery, showing confidence in that 95 percent of the 40-thousand COVID-19 patients treated at home so far had made full recoveries.
Kim Yeon-seung, Arirang News