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ON POINT: Doctor's take on S. Korea's transition to post-COVID normalcy
Updated: 2021-10-14 04:32:31 KST
Now it's time for On Point, where we speak to experts to dig deeper into the biggest news stories in the spotlight right now.
South Korea on Wednesday took its first steps in the nearly two years since COVID-19 arrived on these shores to start the transition to normalcy and its so-called ‘Living with COVID' system.
It held its first meeting of a joint government-civilian committee that is tasked with getting Korea gradually back to the way things were prior to the virus.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum, who chaired the meeting, said there should be a phased return.
For more on this and related-virus response measures, we connect to Doctor Alice Tan, Internist at MizMedi Women's Hospital in Seoul.
Firstly, with around 70 percent of the South Korea's population forecast to be vaccinated by the end of October, do you think the decision to start this transition now comes at the right time?

The prime minister also raised the introduction a vaccine pass, without going into specifics. Since over a fifth of the population has decided against getting the shot, do you foresee the Korean government attempting to mandate vaccines like the Biden administration has done in the U.S.?

During the meeting, the prime minister also said the transition does not mean taking off face masks immediately.
Western countries with similar vaccination rates to Korea - like most Scandinavian nations - have lifted such rules, especially outside. Why do you think the Korean government is more cautious on the wearing of masks - both inside and outside - and when do you foresee the mask rule being lifted here?

Finally, many health experts in South Korea had been concerned that the back-to-back three day weekends would lead to a fresh surge in cases, but that hasn't materialized. Would you say South Korea is over the worst of it… or are you concerned about a fifth wave hitting - with potentially new variants - when temperatures drop?

Well, Doctor Tan, thank you for your insights on the move to slowly lift virus restrictions and resume normal life in Korea. We appreciate you coming on.

Yes, perhaps finally we'll see some light at the end of this tunnel. That was Doctor Alice Tan, Internist at MizMedi Women's Hospital in Seoul.
Reporter : markbroome@arirang.co.kr