Road Map to With COVID-191)
It has been well over a year and a half since coronavirus first imposed itself upon our daily lives. With many people trying to overcome this pandemic, the "live with COVID-19" strategy has recently become a hot topic. Currently, as of October 16, 2021, 32,810,280 people have been vaccinated in Korea, accounting for 63.9% of the total population. As the number of vaccinated people has increased, expectations that we will have to live with the COVID-19 have as well. This strategy refers to coexisting with COVID-19 by establishing a quarantine system and increased vaccinations rather than expecting a complete end to COVID-19, and it focuses on managing severely ill patients rather than reducing the incidence of newly confirmed patients. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDCP) said it is possible to review the enforcement of this system from the end of October when 70% of Koreans are fully vaccinated. In addition, when the vaccination goal is achieved at the end of October, the timing of the strategy transition can be discussed in earnest, so the goal is to establish specific plans before that. Discussions have also begun in the National Assembly. In addition, the Open Democratic Party held with "With Corona TF 1st Meeting," and the Justice Party also held an "Emergency Policy Debate for the Transformation to Living with Corona: A Public Participation-type Quarnatine System." Although the system will not be implemented right away, it needs to be discussed as it is a reality that will be faced someday.
Some countries have already chosen the direction of coexisting with COVID-19, such as the UK and Singapore. The UK declared July 19 as "Freedom Day" and lifted all quarantine rules such as social distancing and wearing masks indoors. Singapore is the first country in Asia to declare that they are coexisting with COVID-19. However, unlike the UK, Singapore adopted a "step-by-step approach." Although the duty to wear masks and social distance was maintained, the quarantine intensity was reduced. In both countries, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has been increasing since their respective declarations, but the number of severely ill patients has been kept relatively stable. As various mutations of the virus continue to emerge, it is inevitable that the number of confirmed cases increases when quarantine is eased. However, concerns about the increasing number of confirmed cases are inevitable. The Korean government has been avoiding the term "live with COVID-19" for as long as possible because the term itself is contradictory and there is a risk of causing misunderstanding of excessive quarantine mitigation, the KCDCP said. However, on October 15, the government announced that the existing social distancing strategy is lasted for two weeks before switching to a "step-by-step" for daily recovery. It seems that the new strategies of coexisting with COVID-19 will come out in November. Amid the possibility of returning to daily life before the COVID-19 pandemic, there are strong concerns. Jeong Kiseok, a professor of respiratory medicine at Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital, warned that "Unlike the flu, COVID-19 still has high fatality rate, so it should not be tackled in the same way as the flu." It seems that more discussions on living with COVID-19 are needed.
1) Yanjoong Kim, ""With COVID-19" is Coexists, Not Goodbye, and the Battles Against Viruses Continue", The Hankyoreh, October 2, 2021