South Korea tightens Covid restrictions a month after relaxation

Seoul, Dec 3 (EFE).- Amid record high Covid-19 cases, South Korea announced Friday that it will tighten social restrictions next week, just a month after measures were relaxed.

From Monday, private gatherings will be limited to six people in the capital region, where more than half of the national population lives and 80 percent of new cases are concentrated, and to eight people in all others, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum announced.

The measure will be in effect for at least four weeks, Kim said at a meeting of the body responsible for managing the response to the pandemic.

Given the rate of vaccination (80.1 percent of the population is now fully vaccinated), just a month ago, on Nov. 1, the authorities had begun relaxing restrictions.

Kim also announced Friday that vaccination passports that allow access to venues considered higher risk, such as saunas, nightclubs and karaoke bars, will also be required in cafes and restaurants.

The measure is another headache for many foreign residents who, given the lack of supplies early in the year, chose to get vaccinated outside of South Korea.

Unlike South Korean citizens, who are credited by local authorities as vaccinated even if they have been inoculated abroad, many foreigners have not been able to obtain their vaccination passports.

This also complicates access for these foreign residents to booster doses that the government has said should be administered five months after the second dose.

The measures announced Friday come just one day after South Korea reactivated mandatory quarantine for all travelers, whether vaccinated or not, after the detection of six cases of the new Omicron variant.

The Asian country had controlled the pandemic well (457,000 cases and 3,700 deaths), but in recent days has been seeing record highs in daily infections (around 3,000-5,000) and serious cases just a month after relaxing restrictions.

On Friday, health authorities reported 4,944 cases and a new record high of 736 critically ill patients, with 34 deaths. EFE


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