The KCDC reported 280 new cases today – recording an average of 162.1 daily infections over the past two weeks – 13 times the average of two weeks ago.
Health authorities have urged people to stay home and limit travel as most of the new cases come from densely populated Seoul, sparking concerns that the country is on the verge of a nationwide outbreak.
Once praised for its strategy in handling the outbreak earlier this year, South Korea now faces another huge outbreak with its track and trace system having to work across all 17 regions in the country for the first time.
Some medical experts believe the nation should toughen anti-virus measures to curb the spread of the virus; economists and policymakers are concerned raising social distancing to its highest level three would inflict more damage on Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
What’s the impact of social distancing on the spread of the disease and the economy?
It’s the topic of our News In-depth tonight. Joining us live in the studio is Dr. Kim Seung-taek, Head of Zoonotic Virub Lab at Institut Pasteur Korea.
Following the alarming surge in number of reported new cases, the government decided to expand level two social distancing guidelines, previously only applied to the greater Seoul area, to the rest of the country starting Sunday.
Could this have effect on the slightly lowered new cases in the last two days into the 2-hundreds from the peaked 3-hundreds going into the weekend?
Slightly lowered, but the number of new cases in the 2-hundreds is still very high.
Is the current level 2 social distancing enough? Do you believe social distancing measures should be strengthened to level three?
In making great containment efforts, one of the concerning issues is that the epidemiological links of roughly 20 percent of recent infections cannot be identified.
Why is this happening? Why are we seeing more silent spreaders?
Out of Hong Kong there has been what researchers are calling the “first case” of documented COVID-19 re-infection. What was notable in the case was that the man showed the usual known symptoms of cough, sore throat, fever and headache during his first infection, but was asymptomatic for the second.
Did this patient show different symptoms because he was infected by different strains of COVID-19?
What does this possibility of re-infection mean for immunity and vaccine development?
The U.S. FDA has issued an authorization for emergency use of convalescent plasma as potential treatment. Can you help us understand what this plasma treatment is?
How does it compare with the hyperimmune globulin under development here in South Korea?
Do you see it as a safe treatment while we wait for an approved vaccine? Is it effective?
Though perhaps better prepared than the first initial outbreak of this pandemic, the sudden rise in new cases will inevitably strain hospitals to supply beds.
Could home quarantine be a possible alternative state of quarantine in efforts to lessen the burden of hospitals?
If so, what kind of guidelines would have to be put in place?
Head of South Korea’s central clinical committee for emerging disease control said while a vaccine is expected as early as next spring, vaccine will not end the pandemic right away.
What does he mean by this?
Dr. Kim Seung-taek, Head of Zoonotic Virub Lab at Institut Pasteur Korea, many thanks for your insights this evening. We appreciate it.
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