‘Every day is critical’: South Korea’s 11-hour battle with Kovid

SEOUL, South Korea – In many provinces of South Korea, there are no ICU beds available to treat the rapidly growing number of Kovid-19 patients. As of Monday, the government confirmed that only 42 beds were available nationwide. In the Seoul metropolitan area, home to half the country’s population and most of its recent infections, there were only six.

The latest explosion of coronavirus cases in South Korea has left the country in such a way that it has not occurred since the onset of the epidemic. If matters cannot be brought under control and pressure on hospitals continues to deteriorate, the government may impose a Level 3 ban for the first time, with South Korea having the highest level of social-remoteness rules short of lockdown.

A quiet fear in a country has gained momentum that it was held for years as a model for the rest of the world. The streets of Seoul are getting empty day by day. Supermarkets have reported brisk sales of instant noodles and meal kits. Restaurant owners are concerned that they will be forced to close their doors for dean-in customers, only taking orders for takeout.

And now, the virus is even harder to contain.

“Unlike the past, this time the virus starts popping up everywhere and no place is safe,” said Myeong Hye-kyung, a head nurse in Daegu at the city’s Yungnam Medical College when the city was in place earlier this year. Country’s first coronavirus outbreak

“In recent times, my life has been only between the hospital and home. I’m afraid to go somewhere else.

In this wave, hospitals are an important center in South Korea. The country aims to provide patients with hospital beds within a day of diagnosis.

But as of Sunday, 368 patients in the Seoul metropolitan area were still in bed waiting for them to be assigned. Last week in Seoul, a patient died while waiting on a hospital bed. Another died at home in Seoul on Sunday.

The number of ICU patients increased to 274 on Monday this month. Over the weekend, South Korea reported more than 1,000 new Kovid-19 patients for five consecutive days.

“We should secure hospital beds for seriously ill patients as if we are fighting a war,” Prime Minister Chung Seo-Kyun said on Sunday. “Each day is important.”

The growth of infection has created a bottleneck as health authorities struggle to allocate a limited number of beds to patients. The government has ordered state-run and private general hospitals to convert at least one percent of their licensed beds to treat critically ill Kovid patients.

Health officials hope that hiccups will reduce significantly in the coming week as more beds become available. The success of the effort will help determine whether the government has increased social-far-reaching sanctions to level 3, under which more than 2 million additional businesses will be shut down or their operations will be dramatically reduced.

“As you can see, we don’t have people coming in,” said Lee Jeong-ae, owner of a restaurant in North Seoul, as he pointed to the empty tables in his restaurant. “The people who suffer the most from social disturbances are small business owners like us.”

Ms. Lee sells fish soup, roast pork and other Korean dishes. Recently it started preparing for new restrictions in view of bulk orders for plastic containers as restaurants like theirs would only be allowed to sell takeouts under Level 3 guidelines.

The Seoul metropolitan area remains under a level 2.5, with schools, gyms, karaoke rooms, bars and other high-risk facilities closed. Restaurants, movie theaters, hair salons and many other businesses remain open, although they should be closed before 9 pm.

As of Monday, South Korea has reported 698 fatalities out of 50,591 cases. Its aggressive campaign to test, trace and treat patients has kept its mortality relatively low. But it is too late before epidemiologists allow the government to adopt Level 3 restrictions.

Unlike previous waves of viruses with large groups that were able to target and trace authorities, the latest wave has spread through numerous small groups in nursing homes, churches, prisons, saunas and small private ceremonies, causing it to be involved Is more difficult to do.

Dr. Eom Jong-sik, who treated Kovid-19 patients at the Gachon University Gill Hospital in a populous port city west of Seoul, said the current problems reflected the government’s failure, despite its reputation for being the leader of the scheme. Could not proceed. Ubiquitous epidemic.

“Experts have already warned that if there is a wave in the Seoul metropolitan area, home to half the country’s population, we may face a shortage of hospital beds there and the government needs to make a plan for that scenario , “Dr. The EOM said. “Right now, we are not only facing difficulty in securing hospital beds in the metropolitan area, but we are also having difficulty taking patients to hospitals as we see hundreds of new patients a day. “

President Moon Jae-in, who has been proud of his government’s strategy to run the epidemic-ridden economy as much as possible, has been reluctant to authorize Level 3. Instead, the government has ended its trial and isolation operations. And introduced new social-wide rules incrementally.

In the past week, it has tested 67,000 people a day for the virus, up from 10 times in October. In Seoul and surrounding cities, the government has added 134 temporary testing stations to help people get free trials, even though they have no symptoms, hoping to isolate “optimistic” optimistic cases with.

As part of the government’s efforts to discourage people from spreading the disease through Christmas and New Year, birthday parties and other private celebrations of five or more people will be banned from Wednesday in the Seoul metropolitan area.

An annual Christmas Eve gathering around a Christmas tree at Seoul City Hall Plaza has been canceled. Larger churches have outgrown their usual Christmas decorations, yet with more than 20 people appeared to be deserted as prohibiting prayer services. The United Christian Church of Korea has urged worshipers to take a holiday at home by sharing carols with friends on social media.

“We will carefully prepare to adopt Level 3,” said Son Young-Rai, a Health Ministry spokesman. “But we hope that the government and the people can go there and work together to control the wave.”

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