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PM says people should not be scared over number of new COVID-19 cases

All News 09:57 February 23, 2022

By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, Feb. 23 (Yonhap) -- Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said Wednesday that there is no reason to feel fear over the soaring number of COVID-19 cases, as South Korea reported more than 170,000 new cases on Wednesday.

Kim made the remark during a COVID-19 response meeting, stressing that the fatality rate and the number of critical patients are being managed stably, as the country reported 171,452 new virus cases, up more than 70,000 from a day earlier.

"Although we should not ease our vigilance and execution of antivirus measures, there is no reason to have fears or be afraid of the number of virus patients, like in the past," Kim said during a COVID-19 response meeting in the central city of Sejong. "We have already established a system that can respond well to the omicron variant."

Health authorities earlier warned that the daily caseload could spike to as high as 270,000 by early next month due to the highly transmissible omicron variant.

But Kim said people should have confidence that they can overcome the situation as data show the omicron variant is less virulent.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum speaks at a COVID-19 response meeting in Sejong on Feb. 23, 2022. (Yonhap)

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum speaks at a COVID-19 response meeting in Sejong on Feb. 23, 2022. (Yonhap)

"According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), omicron's fatality rate and its rate of severe symptoms are both one-fourth of the delta variant, though it is about twice that of the seasonal flu," Kim said. "But its risk diminishes sharply when it comes to people aged 50 or younger and even goes down below the level of seasonal flu with booster shots."

South Korea moved onto an enhanced at-home treatment system to focus its medical resources on serious virus patients and those at high risk of infection amid soaring cases.

Kim promised that the government will expand workforce for virus prevention and treatment.

"We cannot chase the omicron with the previous system," he said. "Although omicron is heading to its peak, we plan to revise our social distancing and other measures in the big picture once we judge that serious cases and deaths can be controlled stably."

kdon@yna.co.kr
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