SEOUL, Feb. 24 (Korea Bizwire) — With South Korean health authorities now imposing stricter qualifications for receiving a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test while lifting self-quarantine rules, an increasing number of people are finding themselves in the ‘gray area’ between those suspected of or infected with coronavirus.
As people can no longer receive tests at a local designated post, many of them choose to self-quarantine voluntarily. Others have no choice but to return to normal activities, even if there are symptoms suspected of being COVID-19.
Now, PCR tests are only being given to people over 60 years of age, those who have had physical contact with an infected person, or those carrying a doctor’s note.
Those with mild symptoms should first test positive using a home test kit before receiving a free PCR test.
“Loosening up the quarantine process like this makes me question the government’s intent,” said Lee Hae-in, a 19-year-old recovered coronavirus patient treated at home.
“Can we expect all quarantine restrictions to be lifted soon, or does the government still want to curtail the spread of the disease?”
Experts argue that further diagnosis is necessary if a person entered into physical contact with those infected, even if they test negative using the a home test kit.
“The government is mixing up measures intended for phases when the patient count is surging, and when it is on a downturn,” said Chun Byung-Chul, an epidemiologist at Korea University.
“Now is the time for us to address the surging number of infections, but these measures seem to give off the wrong message that the government has ‘given up’ on managing them.”
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)