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S. Korea's COVID-19 tally for Wednesday set to be in 1,600-range
Updated: 2021-10-13 05:41:39 KST
We start with the latest on the coronavirus situation in South Korea.
The number of new infections are ticking up, a factor the authorities are chalking up to in the aftermath of the three-day long weekend.

For more on this and other COVID-19-related updates, joining us live in the studio is our report, Shin Ye-eun, good morning

Good morning.

Let's start with the forecast for Wednesday. We'll have an official count in a couple of hours, but what's the current estimate for new infections?

One thing we definitely know is that Wednesday's number of new cases will be higher than yesterday.
From midnight to 9pm Tuesday, 1-thousand 4-hundred 71 people were confirmed to have contracted the virus.
This is 1-hundred 97 more than what was reported at the same time on Monday.
Officials expect Wednesday's caseload to be around 16-hundred.

While this is a drop from the same time last week when cases neared 2-thousand, authorities say it's important to keep monitoring closely throughout the week because people are just coming back from a three-day weekend.
Among the locally-transmitted infections, around three-quarters were from the Greater Seoul area.

And from this Friday, South Korea is set to change its virus prevention measures in line with the government's "living with COVID-19" strategy.
Authorities plan to gradually ease social distancing measures so we can return to our regular lives.

That's right.
With the current social distancing measures due to end on Sunday, authorities will be announcing the new guidelines on Friday.
These will be implemented from next week.
While they didn't specify the exact guidelines or how the measures will change, they did mention it'll probably be the last set of guidelines before the switch to the new strategy.
Take a listen.

"From next week, the social distancing guidelines will probably be the last adjustment before we switch to the "living with COVID-19" strategy. As of now, we are thinking of easing quarantine measures, mainly for those who've been or will be vaccinated."

So you can see that vaccination is a key part of the government trying to gradually return society to everyday life.
That's why many are expecting there will be some type of INCENTIVES for the fully vaccinated.
Even now, authorities are allowing the fully vaccinated to meet in larger groups.
For example, in the greater Seoul area, that has been under level four, the toughest tier of the social distancing scheme, only 2 people can meet after 6 pm.
But if the gathering includes 4 fully vaccinated peoplethe cap could be expanded to 6 people.

The South Korean government is also launching a special committee that will plan a return to normalcy. Tell us more about this committee. Who's on it and what can we expect?

South Korea has established a special committee that'll find ways to gradually return to normal by November.
Normal life meaning we live with COVID-19.
By living, I mean resuming economic activity, education, and culture.
This committee is made up of a mix of government officials and civilians.
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum is the chair.
He'll be joined by 40 cabinet-level officials from different ministries and civilians from various parts of the private sector.
The committee's first meeting is scheduled for 9 am at the Central Government Complex.

Good to hear they are starting right away. What are some of the main agenda items?

A range of topics will be discussed during the two-hour meeting.
The four main areas are the economy, education and culture, local governments and the medical system.
Many experts expect the Committee to discuss which social distancing restrictions should be eased first.
They'll also look into whether a vaccine pass should be used and if so, what the eligibility standards should be.
Another topic is whether the government should continue to announce the number of new infections on a daily basis as it has been doing for a long time.
Instead, they may decide to announce the number of patients who are in critical condition and the number of new deaths.

I think that would be a good idea. Most of the Delta variant cases don't cause people - especially the vaccinated - to become seriously ill and revealing big numbers every day, might be doing more harm than good. However, that's in the committee's hands not mine.
Regardless, I think most of us are thankful the gradual shift to normalcy is finally about to start. Thank you for your report, Ye-eun, and we'll speak to you tomorrow.
Reporter : graceshin@arirang.com