October 25—6pm—Proportion of fully vaccinated reaches 70%
Infections: 351,899 | Cleared: 323,393 | Under treatment: 25,740 | Deaths: 2,766
(As of Oct 24, 12:00am. Source: Ministry of Health and Welfare)
Last week (October 16-22) the average number of new daily cases was 1,354, which is a 15.9% decrease from the previous week. The numbers are decreasing in both the greater Seoul region and the rest of the country. On Saturday October 23, just 240 days since the vaccination program started, the proportion of the population who are fully vaccinated crossed the 70% threshold. And, as there are people still waiting for their second dose, that percentage will continue to increase for a few more weeks.
October 18—7pm—Making the transition to life with Covid-19
Infections: 342,396 | Cleared: 310,344 | Under treatment: 29,392 | Deaths: 2,660
(As of Oct 17, 12:00am. Source: Ministry of Health and Welfare)
Last week (October 9–15), the average number of new daily cases was 1,609. Overall, cases are slowly decreasing, partly thanks to the speedy rate of vaccination. By October 16, 78.5% of the population had got their first dose of a vaccine and 63.9.% had completed their vaccine regimen. It looks likely that Korea will meet the 70% vaccination target this week.
The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters announced on Friday that the existing Social Distancing restrictions—Level 4 in Greater Seoul and Level 3 elsewhere—will be renewed one last time for the next two weeks (October 18 to 31). These two weeks will be a transition period of trying out some more lenient measures before starting in November with what has been widely called “living with Covid-19”, or a “gradual return to regular life” as the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) prefers to call it. While the overall restrictions remain the same, limitations on private gatherings and businesses have been significantly changed to allow more freedom for those who have completed their vaccinations (meaning two weeks have passed since their one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine or their second dose of the AstraZeneca, the Pfizer, or the Moderna). For example, in the greater Seoul region, as many as 8 people (4 unvaccinated, 4 vaccinated) may gather in any facility at any hour. In other regions under Level 3 rules, as many as 10 people (4 unvaccinated, 6 vaccinated) may gather anywhere and at any hour. Restaurants, cafes, and other businesses may stay open later, and outdoor sports stadiums may now admit vaccinated spectators up to 30% capacity.
October 11—7.30pm—Vaccinating minors
Infections: 331,519 | Cleared: 296,708 | Under treatment: 32,236 | Deaths: 2,575
(As of Oct 10, 12:00am. Source: Ministry of Health and Welfare)
In the week of October 2 to 8, the average number of new cases per day was 2,004 (1,507 in Greater Seoul), a significant decrease from 2,636 the week before. By October 10, 77.7% of the population had received their first dose of a vaccine and 59.3% had completed their vaccine regimen.
As part of the effort to gradually return to a normal level of activity, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters is preparing protocols to have non-symptomatic and slightly ill patients stay at home through their quarantine rather than move to a hospital or a specialized facility. So far only minors and their caregivers have been allowed to stay home together. As the authorities expect 70% of the population to have completed their vaccinations by the end of October, people younger than 70 who show no symptoms or only mild symptoms may choose to stay home, while their health and quarantine status are monitored.
The KDCA has been taking appointments to vaccinate pregnant individuals since last Friday, October 8. The vaccinations themselves will begin on October 18. Vaccine appointment bookings for 16 to 17 year olds also started last week, on October 5. By October 7, about a third of the age group had made their appointments. As the vaccination of minors gets underway, the KDCA has also reported the results of a poll conducted in June and July this year on minors (6th grade in elementary school to 2nd grade in high school, aged 12-17) and their parents. Among the poll respondents, 72.2% of parents were willing to have their children vaccinated, and 69.1% of the minors themselves were willing to receive the vaccine.
October 4—6.30pm—Two more weeks of levels 3 and 4
Infections: 318,105 | Cleared: 278,847 | Under treatment: 36,751 | Deaths: 2,507
(As of Oct 4, 12:00am. Source: Ministry of Health and Welfare)
In the week of September 25 to October 1, the average number of new daily Covid cases was 2,636. Over 70% of new cases were found in the greater Seoul region, averaging 1,988 per day there. This was a 42.0% increase from the prior week (September 18 to 24) in Seoul. Numbers in other regions increased by 41.4% over the same period. On vaccinations, by October 3, 77.3% of the population had received their first dose and 52.5% were fully vaccinated.
Seeing the increasing numbers, the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters announced on Friday that the current Social Distancing levels—Level 4 in Greater Seoul and Level 3 in other regions—would continue for the next two weeks, from October 4 to 17.