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S. Korea On Alert Over Covid-19 Outbreak at Missionary School, Mutant Strains Updated: 2021-01-25 15:10:41 KST

South Korea added another 437 infections of the coronavirus today as officials raised alarm over an outbreak at a missionary training school.
Around 130 students and teachers were found infected so far at the church-run academy in the central city of Daejeon.

"What's more concerning is that this boarding school is part of a nationwide network, meaning it could be another Shincheonji or BTJ cluster. We have to make sure we stop the spread in the initial stages."

Meanwhile, South Korean health authorities confirmed nine more cases of mutant strains the coronavirus.

All things Covid - let's talk about it.

Dr. Alice Tan, Internist at MizMedi Women's Hospital and our News In-depth go to medial expert is live in the studio with us.

With the number of daily cases at 437 for today since the drop to 389 cases reported last Monday, the daily number of new cases has stayed under 500.
These numbers are still higher than where we'd like them to be but is it safe to say that we're on a steady and "safe" downturn of the third wave here in South Korea?

Recently, we had yet another large-scale cluster infection linked to a religious organization.
A missionary boarding school this time, out of Daejeon, where 127 cases have been confirmed so far.
Authorities are particularly concerned that this outbreak has the potential to spread in large scale in a similar manner to earlier outbreaks like the Shincheonji Church or the more recent BTJ Center.
It is worth noting that this school wasn't adhering to social distancing regulations but what's worrisome is the danger of asymptomatic patients, which seem to be the cause of this cluster infection.
How do you assess this situation?

What's different in response to this IEM School outbreak is that as Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun stressed, "speedy response" is key How has medical response to such outbreaks developed since the Shincheonji Church first wave of South Korea?

South Korea is expected to roll out a vaccine campaign by next month, but details are still to be released
We've seen that even the slightest complacency in groups result in outbreaks and still too many asymptomatic and untraceable COVID cases
Still amidst much uncertainty, the government is planning to expand in-person education this year, either by giving schools more leeway, or expanding exceptions
Do you think COVID has become more controllable? At least enough to let schools to reopen and let students get back on track with their education?

South Korean drugmaker Daewoong Pharmaceutical announced today that they've received approval from the drug safety agency to conduct phase three clinical trial.
The drug, also known as Camostat, was approved in South Korea back in 2012 for the therapeutic agent in chronic pancreatitis.
Daewoong Pharmaceutical said the drug showed antiviral effects superior to remdesivir.
Can you help us understand the nature of this drug and how it would function as a treatment for the novel coronavirus, which is a respiratory disease?

Among the waves of lab studies being released in the medical world, what's raised concern is a certain variant of the virus called 501Y.V2 out of South Africa
First discovered in late 2020, and researchers have found that this variant escapes neutralization.
That means this variant is not only fast-spreading but those that have COVID-19 immunity, and even those vaccinated against the virus are at risk of being infected?

If continued research does confirm that this means antibody treatments and vaccines may not work against this variant what happens next? Do we wait for another vaccine development? Do we go back to square one of the pandemic?

London has been seeing a downhill turn from their peak at the beginning of this year at up to more than 68-thousand daily new cases
but now they're also seeing patients that had been treated for COVID-19 being readmitted within five months.
Reinfection is this due to variant strands of COVID-19?
We've seen some of the variant cases here in South Korea from the UK What kind of risk does this pose to South Korea?

It seems to be another critical moment for the South Korean government as the current level 2.5 plus social distancing scheme in the greater Seoul area expires at the end of this weekend.
Some restrictions were eased last week but the ban on gatherings of five or more people has been kept in place
The following two weeks will be crucial in keeping the spread of outbreak under control as it also includes the Lunar New Year holiday.
We've seen current restrictions for an extended period of time
what do you think has effectively contributed to curb the spread? Meaning, what elements of the 2.5 plus social distancing should be kept, and what could be eased?
Do you think the people need reminding that daily new cases in the 3 or 4 hundreds is still a high number?

Dr. Alice Tan, Internist at MizMedi Women's Hospital, many thanks as always for your insights and expertise. We appreciate it.
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