August 30—7:45am—The plateau continues
Infections: 248,568 | Cleared: 218,726 | Under treatment: 27,563 | Deaths: 2,279
(As of Aug 29, 12:00am. Source: Ministry of Health and Welfare)
There have not been many new developments on the Covid front in South Korea this week. Case numbers remain stagnant and the race to vaccinate the population continues. The average number of new cases per day in the week of August 22–28 was 1,703, slightly down from 1,750 in the previous week. By August 29, 55.7% of the population had received at least their first dose of a vaccine, and 28.4% had completed their shots.
August 23—6:30am—Social distancing to continue at current levels
Infections: 236,366 | Cleared: 206,276 | Under treatment: 27,875 | Deaths: 2,215
(As of Aug 23, 12:00am. Source: Ministry of Health and Welfare)
Social distancing Level 4, in the greater Seoul region and other cities, may have contributed to the plateauing of new Covid-19 cases, but restrictions have not been enough to cause the numbers to actually fall again yet. The KDCA announced yesterday that the social distancing levels will remain unchanged for the next two weeks, as will the four-person limit to private gatherings nationwide. In Level 4 regions the 10pm closing time for restaurants and cafes will move one hour earlier, to 9pm, and the two-person limit to private gatherings after 6pm will change slightly to allow up to four people, if two of them are fully vaccinated.
By August 21, 50% of the population had received at least one dose of vaccine. At the current rate of vaccine appointments, 70% of the population will have had their first dose by the Chuseok holidays, as planned.
August 16—6:45am—Highest ever daily total and a sharp rise in cases
Infections: 223,928 | Cleared: 195,103 | Under treatment: 26,669 | Deaths: 2,156
(As of Aug 15, 12:00am. Source: Ministry of Health and Welfare)
This week Korea hit the highest ever number of new cases in a day—2,222 on August 11. And the numbers stayed high over the days that followed. The average number of new daily cases in the week of August 8 to 14 was 1,780, which is close to a 20% increase from the previous week. Beds at intensive care facilities set out for Covid patients are also quickly getting filled. On August 12, 70% of these beds were occupied.
The increase in cases has been attributed to the recent weeks of summer vacation as people traveled throughout the country. The government is waiting to see if the upward trend continues before deciding whether more social distancing restrictions should be put in place next week.
August 9—7am—Current social distancing measures extended
Infections: 210,956 | Cleared: 185,003 | Under treatment: 23,832 | Deaths: 2,121
(As of Aug 8, 12:00am. Source: Ministry of Health and Welfare)
In the week of August 1 to 7, the average number of new cases each day was 1,495, which is slightly down from 1,505 in the previous week. The number of cases in Greater Seoul is stagnant or decreasing, though still makes up the majority. And of the cases confirmed in the last week of July, 61.5% were found to be the delta variant.
The KDCA is extending for another two weeks the current social distancing levels—Level 4 for the greater Seoul region and Level 3 for the rest of the country. The four-person limit to private gatherings also continues to apply nationwide.
By August 8, 40.7% of the population had received the first of their two vaccine doses and 15% were fully vaccinated.
August 2—7am—Continuing in the 1,000s
Infections: 199,787 | Cleared: 175,674 | Under treatment: 22,015 | Deaths: 2,098
(As of Aug 2, 12:00am. Source: Ministry of Health and Welfare)
Despite the stronger social distancing measures, Covid-19 numbers in Korea are rising, outside the capital region in particular. The week of July 25 to 31 saw a nationwide average of 1,506 new cases per day. As in many other countries, the delta variant has become the dominant strand, making up 51% of the 2,400 positive cases confirmed between July 18 and 24. The KDCA is considering whether to introduce even stronger social distancing measures than those specified in Level 4.
More than ever, speedy vaccination is critical. Since becoming eligible on July 26, one third of 55 to 59-year-olds have now received their first dose of a Covid vaccine. People aged 50 to 54 will be eligible for vaccination from August 16, and from August 26 this will also apply to 18 to 49-year-olds. The official goal of vaccinating 70% of the population in order to reach herd immunity might also be readjusted depending on how the delta variant spreads.