South Korea to launch vaccine booster amid rise in Covid cases

South Korea’s prime minister said Sunday that the country would soon start giving booster injections to health workers and people over 60 as the country grapples wita a new wave of infections after the national holiday.

South Korea has seen a spike in infections in recent days as millions of people have returned home after the three-day Chuseok holiday that celebrates the autumn harvest. Prime Minister Kim Bu-kum said Sunday the vaccination campaign would accelerate. He said more than 85% of the new cases in recent weeks were people who were not fully vaccinated. Details on the new regulations will be announced on Monday.

“We felt the effects of mass migration during the Chuseok holiday,” Kim said. “We expected this to some extent, but given the scale and speed of the increase in new cases, we are in a dire situation.

South Korea warned earlier this month that an increase in Delta’s cases jeopardized plans to return to a more normal lifestyle in November. The country has begun easing some restrictions, including allowing restaurants and bars to stay open until 10 p.m. as vaccinations ramp up. But more than 18 months after the pandemic, fatigue is mounting and the government is unsure how strictly South Koreans will adhere to the measures.

South Korea will also start giving pills to teenagers and pregnant women, Kim said. Currently anyone over the age of 18 is eligible to be vaccinated. He said the distance between October’s first and second shots would also be shortened. According to the latest government figures, so far about 45% of the total population have been fully vaccinated and about 74% have been partially vaccinated.

After nearly 2,000 cases before the holiday, South Korea reported a record 3,273 new cases on Saturday.

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