South Korea Toughens Measures as Virus Spreads Among Teens

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Asia Pacific|South Korea volition hospitalize each Covid patients taking the assemblage entranceway exam.

The determination comes arsenic the state experiences rising caseloads again. The nine-hour trial is seen arsenic captious successful determining students’ futures, and galore person prepared for it since kindergarten.

Students taking the assemblage   entranceway  exam astatine  a precocious   schoolhouse  connected  Jeju Island, South Korea, successful  December.
Credit...Pool photograph by Yonhap

John Yoon

Nov. 4, 2021Updated 6:54 p.m. ET

South Korea said connected Thursday that it would hospitalize adjacent asymptomatic precocious schoolhouse seniors with Covid if they are taking the country’s high-stakes assemblage entranceway exam aboriginal this month, arsenic the thrust to vaccinate younger radical lags and teenagers relationship for astir a 4th of each Covid patients.

The determination comes arsenic South Korea experiences rising caseloads again. The yearly nine-hour exam is seen arsenic captious successful determining students’ futures, and galore of those taking the trial person prepared for it since kindergarten.

But due to the fact that the trial indispensable beryllium taken nether supervision, the authorities has decided that those taking the Nov. 18 exam who trial affirmative for the microorganism volition person to bash truthful from a infirmary oregon quarantine facility, adjacent if they amusement nary symptoms.

“We are preparing for the concern successful which radical whitethorn instrumentality the social-distancing rules little earnestly arsenic the state eases restrictions,” the Education Ministry said successful a connection connected Thursday, 2 weeks earlier fractional a cardinal students volition hunker down for the exams.

As South Korea begins its phased easing of Covid restrictions, the hazard of infections volition “only increase,” peculiarly among younger people, who person little vaccination rates, Son Young-rae, a Health Ministry spokesman, said connected Wednesday.

Only astir 0.2 percent of radical ages 17 and under, including those not yet eligible for shots, were afloat vaccinated arsenic of past week, according to information released by the Health Ministry connected Oct. 27. South Korea began vaccinating those ages 16 to 17 connected Oct. 18 and those ages 12 to 15 connected Nov. 1.

Since easing restrictions connected Monday, the state has recorded much than 2,000 cases a time connected mean successful the past week, an summation that officials are watching closely, Mr. Son said. More than 24 percent of Covid patients are teenagers, the interior and information minister, Jeon Hae-cheol, said connected Wednesday.

The easing of restrictions, including the lifting of each limits connected the operating hours of restaurants and bars, was a alleviation for galore small-business owners, but it has besides stirred fears astir the anticipation of outbreaks larger than the state has yet seen.

“It feels similar watching an approaching tsunami from a tiny boat,” said Dr. Joong-sik Eom, prof of infectious diseases who has treated Covid patients astatine Gachon University Gil Hospital successful Incheon, successful a Facebook post connected Monday.

As portion of the phased reopening plan, the Education Ministry said that it would afloat reopen elementary, mediate and precocious schools nationwide connected Nov. 22. But it said that it would marque an exemption for precocious schools up of the assemblage entranceway exams, switching each acquisition to distant learning starting connected Nov. 11, a week earlier the exams, until the exams are over.

For trial takers with Covid, the ministry said that it had reserved 244 infirmary beds. It said that it would besides intimately show cases and adherence to Covid rules astatine 320 cram schools nationwide.

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