As the Omicron mutation spreads rapidly, the government has decided to change the entire process, from diagnostic testing to epidemiological investigations, isolation, and treatment for the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19). The time for switching the quarantine system suggested by the quarantine authorities is ‘7,000 new confirmed cases a day’ or ‘Omicron mutation share more than 50%’. The new system that will be applied from next week as early as possible is organized in a question-and-answer format.
―I heard that gene amplification (PCR) testing is limited.
“Only those 65 years of age or older, people with respiratory symptoms, and close contacts can receive free PCR testing. In addition to this, free PCR testing is available only if you receive a rapid antigen test at a medical institution for a fee or test positive using a self-test kit. The amount of personal responsibility for the cost of the rapid antigen test is under discussion with the authorities. The rapid antigen test is faster than the PCR test, which takes 3 to 6 hours, as the test results are obtained in 15 to 30 minutes, but there is a limitation in that the accuracy is lowered.”
– Those who are not vaccinated I heard that it is okay to give a negative result of the rapid antigen test when using a facility with a quarantine pass (inoculation certificate, negative confirmation system)… .
“Yes. Negative rapid antigen test results issued within 24 hours will also be accepted. However, only rapid antigen tests obtained from samples taken from deep inside the nose (nasopharynx) at a medical institution are accepted. We do not accept that the general public used a self-test kit to scan their nostrils and test negative.”
– At the age of 61, she is not currently eligible for Pfizer’s oral treatment, Paxrovid. Are there any plans to expand the target? “If we switch to the new system, the target of the administration of Paxrovid will be expanded. Currently, it is limited to those over 65 and those with weakened immune systems, but in the future, those over 60 and those with underlying diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cancer will also be targeted.”
―Overseas, the ‘fourth vaccination’ is conducted, but is it carried out in Korea?
“The quarantine authorities are reviewing the need for the fourth dose and the appropriate interval for high-risk groups. We are considering immunocompromised patients first, such as leukemia patients or those who have undergone organ transplantation.”
―I heard that a local hospital will also treat COVID-19 patients. What kind of hospital is it? Is there any risk of spreading COVID-19 to other patients?
“In the past, there is a ‘respiratory clinic’ designated by the Ministry of Health and Welfare to safely treat patients with fever or respiratory symptoms. About 650 hospitals have been designated nationwide, centering on the otolaryngology department. The government is planning to start treating COVID-19 patients here first. It is judged that the risk of additional propagation is low because the entry and exit lines can be separated and there is a sound pressure facility.”
―I heard that the quarantine period and the epidemiological investigation process for confirmed cases will be shortened… .
“The quarantine period for confirmed cases is reduced from 10 days to 7 days. The basic epidemiological investigation previously conducted by public health centers will be changed to a method conducted by the confirmed person. A confirmed person enters his/her personal information, symptoms, and contact information online and delivers it to the public health center.”
– The Lunar New Year holiday is not far away. How do you keep your distance?
“From the 17th to the 6th of the next month, the number of allowed private gatherings will increase from 4 to 6 people. Multi-use facilities such as restaurants and cafes will remain open until 9:00 PM. During the Lunar New Year holiday (January 29-February 2), highway tolls must be paid and eating and drinking are prohibited at rest areas. To visit the indoor encampment facility, you need to make a reservation. Contact visits in nursing homes are prohibited. Even if you are not vaccinated, you can go to a contactless visit.”