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S. Korea expedites virus prevention efforts before switching to 'living with COVID-19' strategy
Updated: 2021-10-13 10:48:21 KST
Now well into our second year of the pandemic authorities are looking to shift their COVID-19 strategy for a gradual return to a stronger sense of normality.
For more on this shift I have Shin Ye-eun in the studio.
Ye-eun good to have you back.

So as you reported yesterday a panel of advisers from the public and private sectors HAS been set up.
Let's start there.

So on this Wednesday, Korea launched a special COVID-19 transition committee that is aiming to restore a sense of normal life by November.
Normal life meaning, COVID-19 being treated as an endemic disease, along with the reopening of the economy, schools and cultural activities.
The committee is made up of a mix of public and private sector figures.
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum is co-chair with Professor Choe Jae-chun from Ewha Womans University, joined by cabinet-level officials from different ministries and experts in various fields.

And I hear the committee held its first meeting earlier on this Wednesday.
What was addressed?

A range of topics were covered at the meeting, from the economy, education, culture and healthcare to the COVID-19 situation that is affecting different regions.
At the beginning of the meeting, the Prime Minister said the country's high vaccination rate has created the necessary conditions for a gradual return to normal life.
As of Tuesday, Korea has fully vaccinated more than 60 percent of its population.
Take a listen.

"Now that the country has secured strong disease prevention measures and high vaccination rates, we are ready to steadily return to life as normal. But as we've said numerous times this does not mean taking masks off right away."

He also revealed three specific directives the committee will follow.
First, returning to normal life GRADUALLY.
The Prime Minister specifically said that returning to normal does not mean taking off our masks right away.
And the committee mentioned it would consider implementing a vaccine pass, that fully-vaccinated people can use to access certain venues and services.

Second, the process must be an inclusive one.
The government is especially looking to help people who lost their jobs or didn't receive proper education due to the pandemic.

Lastly, the committee has vowed close cooperation with the public in its exit strategy.
The Prime Minister said all of its decisions will be made only if they full align with public interests.

And the committee will be providing a specific roadmap by the end of this month, which puts the country closer to the goal of launching its new COVID-19 strategy on November 9th.

RIGHT but before that I believe authorities will make public their new COVID-19 prevention guidelines later this week?

That's right.
With the current social distancing measures ending on Sunday, authorities will announce 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 they start implementing an exit strategy. Authorities could also provide rule exemptions for those who are fully vaccinated.

Thank you Ye-eun and do stay behind for broader talks with Soa.
Reporter :