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At Yoon admin’s 1st COVID-19 meeting, second thoughts about lifting isolation order

Yoon’s newly appointed Vice Health Minister Lee Ki-il speaks during the administration’s first COVID-19 meeting Wednesday morning. (Yonhap)
Yoon’s newly appointed Vice Health Minister Lee Ki-il speaks during the administration’s first COVID-19 meeting Wednesday morning. (Yonhap)

At Yoon admin’s 1st COVID-19 meeting, second thoughts about lifting isolation order

At the first COVID-19 meeting after Yoon Suk-yeol administration was inaugurated, senior health officials said the preceding administration’s promise of scrapping isolation orders were being reconsidered.

The meeting was led by Yoon’s first Vice Health Minister Lee Ki-il, appointed to the post Tuesday, as Health Minister nominee Chung Ho-young still awaits confirmation.

“As we speak, new variants are emerging and being investigated. Our modelers say another wave could hit later in the fall and winter,” Lee told the meeting. “Whether to end isolation requirements will be evaluated, as well as if they can be withdrawn based on risk assessments.”

Currently people with COVID-19 are required to isolate for seven full days after receiving a positive test.

Over the transition period, Yoon’s COVID-19 team has openly disagreed with the Moon Jae-in administration’s push to lift pandemic-related restrictions completely and bring normal life back to the country. After ending social distancing on April 18, Moon celebrated the move as a feat.

After Moon’s officials announced a total end to restrictions, including isolation requirements, in the following month, Yoon’s COVID-19 team said April 20 it was “premature.” “That is a decision that should be left to the incoming administration,” the team said.

In the latest seven-day period Korea logged 38,319 cases and 65 deaths per day on average, down significantly from the seven-day average of 208,515 cases and 312 deaths seen the same time last month.

While the omicron-driven surge has subsided, discovery of troubling variants dash hopes of restriction-free lives. In a weekly report Tuesday, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency confirmed six cases of BA.2.12.1 -- a highly transmissible offshoot of omicron’s BA.2 sublineage that is behind a resurgence in the US.

By Kim Arin (arin@heraldcorp.com)

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