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Cheong Wa Dae hints at toughening COVID-19 restrictions

All News 11:07 December 14, 2021

SEOUL, Dec. 14 (Yonhap) -- The office of President Moon Jae-in hinted on Tuesday that the government may reintroduce toughened social distancing measures sooner or later to stem the recent resurgence of COVID-19.

"I don't think the government's (quarantine) measures and actions should be delayed or insufficient at this critical moment," said Park Soo-hyun, senior presidential secretary for public communication, in a radio interview.

"The appropriate measures have already been in place, but the card will be selected according to the situation at that time. Let's watch the situation on Wednesday and Thursday," Park said.

This undated file photo shows Park Soo-hyun, senior presidential secretary for public communication. (Yonhap)

His remarks can be interpreted as implying that strengthened quarantine measures may be announced on Friday depending on the coronavirus trend.

With daily infections hovering around 5,000 to 7,000 lately and the number of serious COVID-19 patients continuing to hit new highs, there are growing calls particularly from the medical community for reintroducing tougher social distancing measures.

The government last month started easing social distancing restrictions under the phased "living with COVID-19" scheme. Alarmed by the resurgence in COVID-19 cases, however, the authorities last week reduced the maximum number of people at private gatherings to six in the greater Seoul area and eight in other areas.

The Korean Health and Medical Workers' Union held a news conference on Monday to call for stopping the "living with COVID-19" scheme for two weeks, arguing that the limitations of the "unprepared" policy of gradual return to prepandemic life have been revealed.

Park's remarks are interpreted as suggesting that the government mulls extraordinary quarantine measures in response to the rising concern about hospital bed shortage and the medical community's capabilities to cope with surging COVID-19 cases.

But Park said that the final card will still be reviewed from the perspective of both quarantine and people's livelihoods. The presidential office has so far said it will carefully push to reintroduce toughened social distancing restrictions particularly in consideration of damage to small business owners.

ycm@yna.co.kr
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