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South Korea pushes booster shots after COVID-19 surge

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Czech Republic, Slovakia see record cases
Germany to expedite booster shots, Austria tightens travel restrictions
Ireland’s hospital system reaching full capacity
People wearing face masks pass by posters reminding precautions against the coronavirus at a subway station in Seoul, South Korea on Wednesday.

 REPUBLIC, GERMANY, IRELAND: South Korea on Wednesday reported 3,187 new cases of COVID-19, nearly matching a one-day record set in September, a worrisome development in a country that eased social distancing rules in recent weeks to lessen the pandemic’s economic impact.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said more than 2,550 of the new cases came from the greater capital area, including a record 1,436 in Seoul. The country’s death toll is now 3,137, after 21 deaths were reported on Wednesday, the 16th consecutive day of double-digit fatalities, including a record 32 on Saturday.

The delta-driven spread has raised questions about whether the country was too quick to ease pandemic restrictions at the start of November in what officials described as a first step toward restoring some pre-pandemic normalcy. Officials are now pushing to speed up the administration of booster shots for people who were fully vaccinated more than six months ago.

Meanwhile, The Czech Republic and Slovakia reported record daily numbers of new coronavirus cases Wednesday, a day before the governments of the neighboring European countries plan to approve new restrictions in response to rising infections.

The Czech daily tally soared to 22,479 new cases, eclipsing the previous record set Jan. 7 by almost 5,000 and nearly 8,000 more than a week ago.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the government is considering several options, including following neighboring Austria in ordering a lockdown for unvaccinated residents. Another measure under review is no longer allowing people to attend public events or go to bars and restaurants based on coronavirus test results. Slovakia reported 8,342 new virus cases, surpassing the previous record of 7,244 set Friday. The Slovakian government is planning new restrictions on unvaccinated people as the country’s hospitals are getting overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger said his Cabinet would vote Thursday on recommendations from an advisory group of medical experts. Among the proposals, which would be instituted for three weeks, are banning unvaccinated individuals from non-essential stores, shopping malls, gyms, pools, hotels and mass public gatherings.

Meanwhile, German Health Minister Jens Spahn has called on doctors not to be too strict about waiting at least six months before giving patients vaccine booster shots.

Infections have shot up in recent weeks, particularly among unvaccinated people, with southern and eastern Germany the hardest hit.

Meanwhile, authorities in neighbouring Austria have said travellers will need to show a negative PCR test upon entering the country; previously, results from the cheaper lateral flow tests were allowed. Meanwhile, Ireland’s hospital system is reaching its full capacity due to surging Covid-19 cases, hospitalisations and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, an official said here.

Anne O’Connor, Chief Operations Officer with the state agency Health Service Executive (HSE), told local media that only 94 beds were currently available across Ireland, reports Xinhua news agency.

There has been a 25 per cent increase in hospital admissions in the last week, and ICU admissions during the period went up 41 per cent, said O’Connor in an interview with the Irish national radio and television broadcaster RTE.


Friday, November 19, 2021 – 01:00

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