S. Korea to extend current social distancing measures for 3 weeks: PM
SEOUL, May 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will extend its current social distancing measures for another three weeks, the prime minister said Friday, amid continued cluster infections and spreading variant cases.
"The number of new daily average patients as of late remains in the 500 level, not budging below that point, and infections are continuing from all quarters in our daily lives," Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said as he announced the extension of virus curbs during a regular COVID-19 response meeting in Seoul.
Kim, however, noted that the number of critical patients has dropped off somewhat thanks to early vaccinations at senior health care centers, and that the number of sick beds for patients also remains sufficient as of now.
The greater Seoul area, home to around half of the nation's 52-million population, will remain under Level 2 distancing, and the rest of the country will be subject to Level 1.5 distancing for an additional three weeks starting Monday.
Bans on gatherings of five or more people and restrictions on small businesses, such as restaurants and cafes, will also remain in place for another three weeks.
Addressing safety concerns over AstraZeneca vaccines, Kim stated that they were "already verified of their safety and efficacy" and added that the government plans to soon announce various programs to offer benefits for those who have received vaccinations.
While the country launched its vaccination program on Feb. 26, it has been sluggish in inoculating South Koreans amid the tight supply of vaccines and anxieties over the safety of vaccines.
As of Wednesday, 1,180,516 people, or 2.5 percent of the country's population, have been fully vaccinated, receiving both doses of two-part vaccines.
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