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Regions across S. Korea hit record-highs in COVID tallies as Omicron rages on Updated: 2022-01-20 10:50:19 KST

Right Soa thank you for the global tallies.
Now OMICRON is making its PRESENCE FELT here on the local front.
For more Kim Yeon-seung joins me now.
Yeon-seung welcome.

Good to be back Sunny.

Let's begin with the spread of OMICRON here.

Sunny, record numbers are being reported in regions nationwide.
These include places where Omicron is already the dominant strain like the city of Gwangju and Jeollanam-do Province.
Gwangju had 350 new cases on Wednesday, topping 300 for the first time.
And with Jeollanam-do Province reporting close to 160 cases, the southwestern Honam region of Korea surpassed 500 cases, another first.
The city of Pyeongtaek in Gyeonggi-do province found 90 percent of their analyzed local case samples to be Omicron.
The city combed out more than three hundred new cases, and Gyeonggi-do province, where Pyeongtaek is located, hit a fresh high with more than 2,400 new cases.
Chungcheongbuk-do Province also saw more than 170 local cases, punching in a new record-high as well.
The city of Daegu has also seen a case count of more than 350, a number unseen since it was the epicenter of the virus in early 2020.

So chances of an UNPRECEDENTED daily tally is likely in the near future?

Well it is possible.
The all-time high daily tally was recorded last year on December 15th, and stood at around 7,8-hundred and-50.
Authorities say that cases may top 7-thousand by tomorrow by the earliest.
And with Omicron becoming the dominant strain and expected to take up 80 to 90 percent of the total cases in three weeks, daily cases could come close to that number or even surpass it.

And do REMIND us about the OMICRON-TAILORED strategy that Korea is planning to adopt under such a scenario.

Well when cases hit 7-thousand, the government is going to pivot into a faster and more efficient containment strategy.
It will speed up contact tracing and prevention, strengthen quarantine on arrivals, and expand at-home COVID treatment for mild cases of Omicron.
The isolation period for confirmed patients will also be shortened from 10 to 7 days.

And what's the latest with regard to our vaccine pass system?

Right, so before going on, I would like to note that authorities relaxing their posture on vaccine passes no way undermines the importance of vaccinations.
In fact, they continue to emphasize that vaccinations are the best defense against the Omicron variant.
That being said, vaccine pass exemptions have been extended to people who couldn't complete their regimen, because they've shown an adverse reaction or were hospitalized after the first dose.

Hasn't that always been the criteria for vaccine pass exemptions though?

Right, but beforecausality between the reaction and the vaccines had to be proven.
But there were a lot of complaints, because establishing such a link in a clear manner was very difficult.
Now, the government is granting exemptions to anyone who has experienced severe reactions or was hospitalized within 6 weeks of inoculation, even if causality cannot be proven.
With this move, vaccine pass waivers will be extended to roughly 12-thousand to 17-thousand people.

Who else could become eligible for these exemptions?

People with specific health conditions may be added to the list.
Health authorities are looking over whether to include in the list people with Guillain-Barre syndrome, which is a rare immune disorder and people with cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, which is a blood clot in the brain.
There have also been a lot of requests to add pregnant women to the list, but the government has made clear that won't happen.
They said that in fact vaccines are recommended for pregnant women, since they're at high risk of severe health outcomes after catching COVID-19.

What about vaccine passes for minors?
Has there been any progress on that front?

It's still an ongoing legal battle between those who support vaccine pass for minors and those who are opposed.
On one side there's the government.
On the other, there's the Seoul Administrative Court's decision to suspend vaccine pass for minors, backed by citizens and various health experts.
The case will be handed off to the Seoul High Court, so that decision is to come.
Hopefully there will be a ruling before March, to clear up any uncertainties for everyone involved.

All right Yeon-seung thank you for that report.
See you on Friday.
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