Health authorities here are hoping to secure vaccines for about 90-percent of the population.
For more on these intentions I have Kim Dami here in the studio.
Welcome back Dami.
Good afternoon, Sunhee.
Do start us off with the government’s announcement earlier today on vaccine procurement.
The Korean government says it is looking to secure enough vaccines for 44 million people.
That’s 14 more million than what the government had originally planned.
(KOREAN – )
“The government has secured enough vaccines for 10 million people through the COVAX facility. The government will pre-order 64 million doses for 34 million people from global drugmakers.
The government will each purchase 20 million doses from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna, which require two shots per person.
Another four million will be secured from Johnson & Johnson’s, which requires one shot.
Park said the health ministry has already signed a deal with AstraZeneca and will proceed contracts with the three other companies later this month.
Now, the vaccines for 44 million people will be able to cover almost 90 percent of the country’s population.
It is expected to be shipped as early as February, but details of the vaccination program like the exact vaccination date are yet to be decided.
The health minister noted that the effects of the vaccination program could be maximized if it began in the latter half of next year.
The most vulnerable groups like the elderly and frontline healthcare workers will be the first to get vaccinated.
The health ministry will also create a task force to oversee the nationwide vaccine program like cold chain management for vaccines that require low storage temperatures.
Meanwhile President Moon Jae-in has ordered the government to DEPLOY all of its resources to contain the latest outbreak?
Right, President Moon stressed that the situation is more serious than ever, warning of an uncontrollable nationwide pandemic if the virus cannot be swiftly contained.
“I feel remorseful and heavy in my heart when I think of the struggles that people will face due to the heightened social distancing measures. The government will spare no effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, and this may be the last great challenge we have to overcome before vaccines and treatments become widely available.
President Moon has also ordered the government to mobilize all available manpower, including civil servants, the military and police — to strengthen Korea’s contact-tracing capacity and to extend the operating hours of COVID-19 screening centers to include late-evenings and weekends.
Large-scale drive-through test centers will also be set up in the Greater Seoul area.
Korea will also roll out “rapid antigen tests” in the capital area starting next week.
The test results come out within 15 minutes, with more than 90 percent accuracy, compared to the existing RT-PCR tests which take about six hours.
The president urged people to get tested if they suspect they have the virus, even if they don’t have symptoms and called on them to avoid gatherings and travel, especially ahead of the Christmas holiday season.
And starting today the greater Seoul area is now subject to level 2.5 social distancing measures.
Tell us a bit about the enhanced precautions.
Right, level two.five social distancing is the second highest in the country’s five-stage alert system .
That means thousands of establishments must close and operations of many others will be restricted.
And that includes gyms.
“The main problem is that gym users need to exercise for at least three weeks to have a routine. But with the government issuing restrictions almost every three weeks, customers are losing the desire to work out, which has made it hard for us to run this business.”
On top of that, singing rooms were allowed to open until 9 PM, but now they’ll be completely closed for three weeks.
And 9 PM closing times will apply to movie theaters, internet cafes, hair salons and department stores.
Weddings and funerals are limited to 50 people, and places of worship can only hold virtual religious services.
Restrictions on coffee shops and restaurants will remain in place — meaning take-out only for cafes and delivery services for restaurants after 9 PM.
Despite many places being shut again, one person thinks these tougher measures are necessary.
“I think the stricter social distancing measures are a good idea because we’ve seen a rising number of cases since Halloween in October. I think it’s better to have restrictions in place now that we’re approaching the holidays.”
In the meantime, health authorities have warned that daily caseloads could top the 1,000 mark, which could lead to the adoption of level 3 distancing measures.
Alright, thanks for joining us today.