South Korea mentioned on Thursday that it will hospitalize even asymptomatic highschool seniors with Covid if they’re taking the nation’s high-stakes faculty entrance examination later this month, because the drive to vaccinate youthful individuals lags and youngsters account for almost 1 / 4 of all Covid sufferers.
The choice comes as South Korea experiences rising caseloads once more. The annual nine-hour examination is seen as essential in figuring out college students’ futures, and lots of of these taking the check have ready for it since kindergarten.
However as a result of the check should be taken beneath supervision, the federal government has determined that these taking the Nov. 18 examination who check constructive for the virus can have to take action from a hospital or quarantine facility, even when they present no signs.
“We’re getting ready for the scenario by which individuals could take the social-distancing guidelines much less severely because the nation eases restrictions,” the Training Ministry mentioned in an announcement on Thursday, two weeks earlier than half one million college students will hunker down for the exams.
As South Korea begins its phased easing of Covid restrictions, the danger of infections will “solely improve,” significantly amongst youthful individuals, who’ve decrease vaccination charges, Son Younger-rae, a Well being Ministry spokesman, mentioned on Wednesday.
Solely about 0.2 % of individuals ages 17 and beneath, together with these not but eligible for photographs, had been totally vaccinated as of final week, in keeping with information launched by the Well being Ministry on Oct. 27. South Korea started vaccinating these ages 16 to 17 on Oct. 18 and people ages 12 to fifteen on Nov. 1.
Since easing restrictions on Monday, the nation has recorded greater than 2,000 instances a day on common up to now week, a rise that officers are watching carefully, Mr. Son mentioned. Greater than 24 % of Covid sufferers are youngsters, the inside and security minister, Jeon Hae-cheol, mentioned on Wednesday.
The easing of restrictions, together with the lifting of all limits on the working hours of eating places and bars, was a aid for a lot of small-business house owners, however it has additionally stirred fears about the opportunity of outbreaks bigger than the nation has but seen.
“It seems like watching an approaching tsunami from a small boat,” mentioned Dr. Joong-sik Eom, professor of infectious ailments who has handled Covid sufferers at Gachon College Gil Hospital in Incheon, in a Fb publish on Monday.
As a part of the phased reopening plan, the Training Ministry mentioned that it will totally reopen elementary, center and excessive colleges nationwide on Nov. 22. But it surely mentioned that it will make an exemption for prime colleges forward of the faculty entrance exams, switching all instruction to distant studying beginning on Nov. 11, per week earlier than the exams, till the exams are over.
For check takers with Covid, the ministry mentioned that it had reserved 244 hospital beds. It mentioned that it will additionally carefully monitor instances and adherence to Covid guidelines at 320 cram colleges nationwide.