Health officials said the country’s medical response remains stable after efforts to expand resources, with more than 30% of intensive care units designated for COVID-19 treatment still available.

South Korea experienced the deadliest day of the pandemic to date on Tuesday, with 293 deaths reported in the past 24 hours, as the country grapples with a record surge in coronavirus infections caused by the fast-moving omicron variant. The 1196 virus patients in severe or critical conditions were also a new high. Health officials said the country’s medical response remains stable after efforts to expand resources, with more than 30% of intensive care units designated for COVID-19 treatment still available. But pressures on the hospital system are expected to increase in the coming weeks, given the time span between infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

“We expect the number (serious or critical cases) to grow to about 2,000. We are preparing our medical response to that,” Park Hyang, a health ministry official, said at a briefing. South Korea has reported a daily average of about 337,000 new cases in the past seven days, including 362,283 on Tuesday, representing a more than 80-fold increase from levels seen in mid-January, when omicron emerged as the dominant species. The country’s caseload now exceeds 7.2 million, with an additional 6.4 million since February.

Park said that due to high vaccination rates, the country has so far weathered the ommicron wave with lower levels of fatalities than what was seen in the United States and Europe, which were previously affected by the variant. More than 62% of South Koreans have received booster shots. The country so far has 17.6 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 285.5 deaths in the US and 237.5 in Britain, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

The omicron variant has forced South Korea to forgo a strict COVID-19 response based on massive lab testing, aggressive contact tracing and quarantines to focus limited medical resources on priority groups, including people 60 and older and people with pre-existing medical conditions. The country will also begin rolling out vaccines for children between the ages of 5 and 11 later this month. More than 1.6 million virus carriers with mild or moderate symptoms have been asked to isolate at home to save hospital space, the KDCA said.


This post South Korea reports record deaths amid microwave wave was original published at “https://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/health/south-korea-reports-record-deaths-amid-omicron-surge/2461309/”

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