Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum speaks during a daily interagency meeting on the country's coronavirus response at the government complex in Seoul, Friday. (Yonhap)
The South Korean government will lower the age minimum for COVID-19 treatment pills from 65 to 60 to better counter the spread of the omicron variant, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said Friday.
Kim announced the measure during the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters meeting, along with other changes that the government will bring into the country’s COVID-19 response system.
“(The government) will make several changes in the country’s response system to more effectively counter the spread of the omicron variant,” Kim said during the meeting.
Kim said that the government will also expand its supply of COVID-19 treatment pills to nursing facilities and medical centers specializing in infectious diseases.
The first batch of Pfizer COVID-19 treatment pills arrived in the country last week. The pills will be administered first to patients aged 65 and above, as well as those with compromised immune systems.
Kim said the government will also introduce rapid antigen tests at local testing stations to make COVID-19 tests simple and fast. Previously, testing centers mainly provided PCR-based testing to visitors.
When rapid antigen tests are introduced, PCR-based tests will be provided only to people at higher risk from the coronavirus, including older people, people with underlying health conditions and pregnant women, health authorities said.
The government will introduce rapid antigen tests at airports as well, to better control the number of imported cases.
According to Kim, the government plans to allow more private hospitals to diagnose and treat COVID-19 patients. The government will try the scheme to determine its effectiveness. The government will later decide whether it will expand the scheme nationwide, it added.
By Shim Woo-hyun (email@example.com