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PM: COVID-19 situation turns unstable again, new distancing levels to be fixed with prudence

All News 10:34 January 28, 2021

SEOUL, Jan. 28 (Yonhap) -- The government will "prudently" determine whether to lower social distancing levels this week against the backdrop of the still unstable COVID-19 situation, as well as the approach of the traditional Lunar New Year holiday, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Thursday.

The prime minister's remarks were made during an interagency meeting on the COVID-19 response held at the government complex in Seoul.

The government is set to announce new social distancing levels ahead of the extended Lunar New Year holiday slated for Feb. 11-13.

"Through prudent deliberations, (the government) will make a wise decision," the prime minister noted.

"The medical system has enough room (to handle outbreaks), but many other indicators, such as the latest infection figures, have turned unstable," he added.

Since early December, the greater capital area has been under the Level 2.5 social distancing guidelines, the second strongest of the five-tier system, with other areas under Level 2, the third highest.

As the tight distancing requirements prolonged, discontent is growing among businesses forced to close or cut down operations, such as cafes, bars or fitness studios.

However, health officials are still on alert against a potential flare-up of infections amid continuing mass outbreaks at religious facilities nationwide.

"How well the Lunar New Year fares is a very important variable (in fixing the new distancing level), while the government also needs to make sure the disease prevention rules are equal (to each business) and socially acceptable," the prime minister said.

He said the government, above all, needs to stabilize COVID-19 infections ahead of the holiday, as well as the start of the national COVID-19 vaccination in February.

The country reported 497 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, including 479 locally transmitted infections, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun speaks during an interagency meeting on the COVID-19 response held at the government complex in Seoul on Jan. 28, 2021. (Yonhap)

pbr@yna.co.kr
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