SEOUL, July 17 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea said Friday it is preparing for a long battle against the new coronavirus amid the lack of an effective vaccine and treatment although the country is less likely to suffer another wave of the virus outbreak.
The country, which reported its first COVID-19 case on Jan. 20, was hit by more than 900 daily new infections in late February due mainly to cases traced to a religious sect in Daegu, 302 kilometers south of Seoul.
On the back of citizens’ cooperation with the country’s social distancing drive, the virus curve flattened sharply, according to Kwon Jun-wook, deputy director of the Central Disease Control Headquarters.
“We have now learned more about COVID-19 and became aware of asymptomatic patients. Situations have changed, and more people are also wearing protective masks,” Kwon said in a meeting with foreign correspondents here.
But health authorities are preparing for potential another wave of the virus and a prolonged virus battle.
“We are now facing a real problem that the pandemic may last for more than a year,” Son Young-rae, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health and Welfare, said.
“We need to prepare for side-effects of the long battle with the pandemic, including paying attention to non-COVID-19 patients and overcoming the society’s stress.”
South Korea has been hailed as one of the most successful countries in containing the spread of the virus pandemic that has infected more than 13.7 million people around the globe, on the back of its aggressive testing regime and strict social distancing.
The country recently experienced an uptick in the number of new cases due to a rise in cases traced to religious gatherings, door-to-door sales businesses, and arrivals from foreign countries.
On Friday, South Korea added 60 new infections, including 39 imported cases, raising the total to 13,672. Infections coming in from overseas have been on a high plateau for weeks, rising by double-digit numbers for 22 consecutive days.
Health authorities said the country is making various efforts to cope with the rising number of imported cases, and is also working closely with the United States Forces Korea (USFK).
USFK has seen a marked increase in the number of COVID-19 patients among newly assigned service members and related personnel in recent weeks along with the fast spread of the virus in the U.S.