South Korea mentioned on Thursday that it might 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 folks 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 plenty of of these taking the take a look at have ready for it since kindergarten.
However as a result of the take a look at have to be taken underneath supervision, the federal government has determined that these taking the Nov. 18 examination who take a look at optimistic for the virus may have to take action from a hospital or quarantine facility, even when they present no signs.
“We’re making ready for the state of affairs through which folks might take the social-distancing guidelines much less significantly because the nation eases restrictions,” the Training Ministry mentioned in a press release on Thursday, two weeks earlier than half 1,000,000 college students will hunker down for the exams.
As South Korea begins its phased easing of Covid restrictions, the risk of infections will “only increase,” particularly among younger people, who have lower vaccination rates, Son Young-rae, a Health Ministry spokesman, said on Wednesday.
Only about 0.2 percent of people ages 17 and under, including those not yet eligible for shots, were fully vaccinated as of last week, according to data released by the Health Ministry on Oct. 27. South Korea began vaccinating those ages 16 to 17 on Oct. 18 and those ages 12 to 15 on Nov. 1.
Since easing restrictions on Monday, the country has recorded more than 2,000 cases a day on average in the past week, an increase that officials are watching closely, Mr. Son said. More than 24 percent of Covid patients are teenagers, the interior and safety minister, Jeon Hae-cheol, said on Wednesday.
The easing of restrictions, including the lifting of all limits on the operating hours of restaurants and bars, was a relief for many small-business owners, but it has also stirred fears about the possibility of outbreaks larger than the country has yet seen.
“It feels like watching an approaching tsunami from a small boat,” said Dr. Joong-sik Eom, professor of infectious diseases who has treated Covid patients at Gachon University Gil Hospital in Incheon, in a Facebook post on Monday.
As part of the phased reopening plan, the Education Ministry said that it would fully reopen elementary, middle and high schools nationwide on Nov. 22. But it said that it would make an exemption for high schools ahead of the college entrance exams, switching all instruction to remote learning starting on Nov. 11, a week before the exams, until the exams are over.
For test takers with Covid, the ministry said that it had reserved 244 hospital beds. It said that it would also closely monitor cases and adherence to Covid rules at 320 cram schools nationwide.