SEOUL, Oct. 22 (Yonhap) -- Three quarters of South Koreans agree with the need to shift to the "living with COVID-19" scheme, a poll said Friday, as the government is moving to phase out coronavirus restrictions under the new policy next month.
According to the survey conducted early this month on 1,083 people aged 19 to 69, 76.5 percent expressed support for the government's planned transition to the coexistence with the coronavirus pandemic.
In a similar poll carried out in August, only 56.9 percent were in favor of the switch to the "living with COVID-19" policy.
The latest poll, conducted Oct. 5-8 by Hankook Research at the request of the health ministry, was released by Seoul National University's Graduate School of Public Health at a COVID-19-related seminar in Seoul. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points with a 95 percent confidence level.
The government has said it will seek a step-by-step recovery of daily life from November by shifting its focus to the management of the number of critically ill patients and deaths.
Specifically, 70.7 percent of respondents supported the transition from minimizing the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to minimizing the loss of livelihood and daily life, according to the survey.
Seventy-four percent agreed that the health care system should be changed to minimize the number of seriously ill patients and deaths, while 63.1 percent supported a transition to eased social distancing regulations.
As for the timing of policy shift, 41.8 percent said "now is most appropriate," while 27.5 percent said the policy should be changed later and 20.6 percent said it is already too late.
About 57 percent said they can accept new daily COVID-19 cases of 1,000 to 2,000 after the policy change, while the majority of the respondents said an annual death toll of 1,000 to 2,000 can be tolerated.
The poll also found 53.2 percent believing that social gains from the "living with COVID-19" scheme would be greater than the losses.
As for the possible introduction of the so-called "vaccine pass" system, which requires a vaccination certificate or a negative test result for entry into restaurants and other multi-use facilities, 74.9 percent expressed opinion of agreement, whereas 20.2 percent opposed.
Slightly over 80 percent said they are opposed to the lifting of the current mask requirements in indoor settings even after the "living with COVID-19" scheme is introduced.
Meanwhile, the ratio of respondents who express fears of being diagnosed with COVID-19 has steadily fallen from 69.7 percent in February and 64 percent in August to 56.8 percent this month after peaking at 71.8 percent in January.
About 46 percent said the coronavirus situation will likely continue for another one to two years, while 31.5 percent said it will persist for longer than two additional years.
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