Thousands of South Korean doctors strike amid surge in coronavirus cases
Seoul, Aug 26 (efe-epa).- Tens of thousands of doctors, including interns and residents, began a three-day strike in South Korea on Wednesday to protest against the government’s plan to increase the number of medical students.
The strike has complicated the fight against Covid-19 at a time when the number of infections has surged in the country.
The strike has also disrupted medical services such as consultations and surgeries, according to local agency Yonhap.
The exact number of doctors taking part in the strike is not known even as it is organized by the Korean Medical Association (KMA), which has 130,000 members.
The ministry of health and welfare has ordered doctors from the capital region, where most infections are being recorded and which added 299 new cases on Wednesday, to return to work.
The ministry has warned that those who fail to comply with the order could have their licenses revoked and face imprisonment of more than two years or fines of up to almost 30 million won (about $25,000).
The government has said that the reform plan to increase the number of students in medical schools has been put on hold until the pandemic is controlled and that it is in talks with the KMA.
However, despite negotiations, the body representing resident doctors and interns has said that it would continue the strike until the government completely cancels its plans.
The doctors have been staging strikes since the beginning of August, with some doctors striking indefinitely since last week.
However, Wednesday’s strike is the largest since the number of Covid-19 patients began to surge in the country on Aug. 14.
South Korea has been widely praised as one of the countries that have best controlled the pandemic so far thanks to its comprehensive contact tracing system.
A total of 18,265 have been recorded in the country so far, with 312 deaths.
Schools in the South Korean capital region returned to online classes starting Wednesday due to the increase in Covid-19 cases and especially in this area. EFE-EPA