15 October 2021
South Korea has established a special group to debate methods for living with COVID-19 in the long-term. The country is making plans to reduce coronavirus restrictions and reopen the economy as vaccination levels rise.
Under the strategy, the government aims to remove some coronavirus restrictions for citizens who can prove they have been fully vaccinated. It also aims to urge people who have mild COVID-19 symptoms and are under the age of 70 to recover at home, the health ministry said last week.
The government will also pay greater attention to the number of hospitalizations and deaths instead of new daily infections. It is considering not publishing information on daily infection rates, South Korea's Yonhap news agency has reported.
"We will turn COVID-19 into a controlled infectious disease and no longer a fear of the unknown," Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum told the group's first committee meeting on Wednesday.
South Korea never put in place a full lockdown. But it has been under its most widespread social distancing measures since July.
These restrictions include limited operating hours for food and drink places and indoor exercise areas. The limits have hit self-employed people and small businesses especially hard. The country also has a limit on gatherings of more than two people after 6 at night in and around the capital, Seoul.
In September, the government announced plans to speed up a step-by-step return to normalcy starting in November. At that time, 70 percent of its 52 million people are expected to be fully vaccinated. Currently, the country has given at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose to 78.1 percent of its population. Currently, over 60 percent are fully vaccinated.
South Korea has kept hospitalizations and deaths at a fairly low rate. It had 359 severe cases of COVID-19 and a death rate of 0.78 percent as of Tuesday, October 12, official data showed.
The country reported 1,584 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. It has recorded a total of 335,742 infections and 2,605 deaths.
I'm Ashley Thompson.
Reuters news agency reported this story. Ashley Thompson adapted it for VOA Learning English. Susan Shand was the editor.
Words in This Story
strategy - n. a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time
symptom - n. a change in the body or mind which indicates that a disease is present