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S. Korea to consider expanding home treatment as cases hit new high

SEOUL South Korea will consider expanding home treatment of Covid-19 patients, a health official said yesterday, as both new daily infections and severe cases hit record highs, putting hospital capacity under strain.

Infections in South Korea skyrocketed this month after the government began to ease restrictions under a so-called "living with Covid-19" scheme last month.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 7,175 new coronavirus cases and 63 deaths for Tuesday, and hospitals are treating a record 840 critical and serious cases.

"It is important to retain or reduce the trend of the current scale of the severely ill patients within a week or two," Mr Son Young-rae, a senior Health Ministry official, told a news conference.

He said the government may need to make significant adjustments to the healthcare system if daily cases top 10,000, and consider expanding at-home treatment from around 50 per cent currently, as four-fifths of Covid-19 patients are symptomless or have only mild symptoms.

Less than 3 per cent of coronavirus patients were hospitalised in the UK, 6.95 per cent in Singapore and 12.8 per cent in Japan, Mr Son said.

The government will mobilise additional personnel to oversee coronavirus patients treating themselves at home and improve the emergency transfer system to hospitals for those who develop severe symptoms, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum told a Covid-19 response meeting.

Private clinics will also treat Covid-19 patients, in addition to large hospitals.

South Korea has so far confirmed 38 cases of the Omicron variant. - REUTERS

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