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S. Korea may see more than 7,000 cases on Friday. Will it be a fifth wave? Updated: 2022-01-21 05:56:21 KST

We start with the COVID-19 situation in South Korea.
New cases may hit 7-thousand on Friday.
But some experts are forecasting that number may double in a month or so, with the Lunar New Year holiday coming up at the end of January and Omicron spreading fast.

Now to fill you in on the details and more updates, we have our reporter Kim Yeon-seung in the studio.
Good morning, Yeon-seung

Good morning

So Yeon-seung, authorities had already said that cases may reach 7-thousand as early as Friday.
How likely do you see that happening today?

Very likely.
Up to 9PM Thursday, South Korea reported 5,980 new cases.
When the total tally is rounded up, another thousand cases may be added and may touch that 7-thousand mark.
Gyeonggi-do province also hit a fresh-high in their 9PM tally 1,930.
They actually reported a record daily case count yesterday,.. more than 24-hundred, so we'll see if the region hits another record-high in their caseload.
Authorities say that this could potentially be a fifth wave.

What are the longer term projections looking like? It doesn't sound good..

Numbers could spike up to 10-thousand to 15-thousand a day in a month, if the country fails to contain the virus.
This is according to the Central Disease Control Headquarters.
Especially with the Lunar New Year Seollal holiday coming up, it remains absolutely critical to curb the spread during this busy holiday, one that usually sees big family gatherings and cross-country travel.

So you've mentioned throughout the week that authorities are planning to shift into a different virus response phase, one that's more tailored to Omicron.
When can we expect this change?

Soon, most likely.
Authorities did say last week that they'll pivot to a new virus response when daily cases hit 7-thousand.
But on Thursday, they adjusted and said that this plan will go into action when the daily average reaches 7-thousand.
They haven't yet given clarification on the specifics in terms of timeframe for calculating the average.
Authorities did say they'll announce the details today, so hopefully that will clear up any confusion.
Stay tuned to Arirang News because we'll bring you the updates as soon as we can.
According to authorities, the new virus response plans will be faster and more efficient.
This new response system will expand at-home recovery, rope in local doctors to help with testing and treatment, and shorten the number of days in isolation.
The plan focuses on maximizing efficiency on prevention and treatment using the current capacity we have to battle the expected surge of Omicron infections.

Update us on Pfizer's oral COVID-19 treatment. It's been in South Korea from around a week now

Health authorities will give an update on that today.
They last filled us in on Wednesday and said that only 39 people had been administered the pill last weekend, from Friday to Sunday.
That's a pretty low figure,.. especially considering that the health authorities' original plan was to prescribe the pill to 1-thousand people a day from their stock of 21-thousand courses.
Doctors on the covid frontlines said that they find it rather difficult to prescribe the pill for patients because there are so many medications that are not recommended for use alongside Paxlovid.
So we'll see in Friday's announcement if health experts have kicked the usage of Paxlovid up a notch on the frontlines.

Right, then what about other methods of treatment?
Are they ramping up use of other treatments seeing as Paxlovid is not being used as much as expected?

One covid treatment, Remdisivir, will be expanded in use.
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety granted emergency use of Remdesivir, which is an antiviral medication made by Gilead biopharmaceutical company, to patients with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19.
The patients have to be aged 12 and over and weigh at least 40 kilograms.
This intravenous treatment used to be only administered to critically-ill patients.
But health authorities widened the use to prevent mild cases developing into severe illnesses.
They felt confident enough to make this change after reviewing results of clinical trials and by looking at the precedent set in Europe.

Ok thank you for that report Yeon-seung.
We'll see you back here Monday.
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