Amid the third wave of COVID-19 in South Korea, nursing homes across the country are seeing large clusters of infections.
This is particularly concerning for the health authorities because the elderly are at much greater risk from the virus.
The official daily figures reported on Tuesday show the seriousness of the situation.
One facility in Bucheon, Gyeonggi-do Province reported 45 new cases, bringing the total confirmed linked cases to 117 while a care home in Ulsan reported 47 cases overnight taking the total there above 200.
In addition, a new cluster was discovered on Tuesday from a nursing home in Gimje, Jeollabuk-do Province with 60 cases on the first day of mass screening.
Visitors have been banned from nursing homes for some time to prevent the spread of the virus, with only the staff allowed to come and go.
But experts say the nature of nursing homes where a number of patients are in one room makes it easy for the virus to spread.
And it’s tough to identify the initial symptoms among the elderly.

“People in nursing homes do not have clear symptoms they don’t get high body temperatures and diseases such as dementia stop them from expressing themselves so when a case is spotted, it has already spread around the home.”

In response to the clusters from nursing homes, the government says it will make frequent screening mandatory for all those related to the facilities starting with the capital region.

“First, for high-risk facilities such as nursing homes, long term care hospitals, and mental hospitals in the Seoul metropolitan area, we plan on making the budget for two screenings a week for the next three weeks.”

Experts add that the availability of intensive care beds will only worsen if clusters from these facilities are not prevented.
In addition, the elderly should be considered a priority for vaccination once it starts.
Kim Do-yeon, Arirang News.

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