COVID-19 Crisis in South Korea: Soaring Test Kit Prices And A Surge That Experts Say Is Worse Than Last Winter!
: The COVID-19 pandemic continues to grip South Korea, with a recent surge in infections raising concerns among the public and experts alike. As the nation battles this resurgent wave, stock prices of COVID-19 diagnostic kit manufacturers have seen a significant jump, reflecting the growing apprehension surrounding the virus.
Seegene, a prominent player in the diagnostic kit market, saw its share price rise by 8.86 percent to 23,350 won ($18.36) as of 11:10 a.m., with other diagnostic kit makers such as SD Biosensor, Humasis, and Sugentech also experiencing stock price increases. The rise in share prices comes as the country's summer vacation season sparks fears of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the third week of July reached 253,825, representing a staggering 35.8 percent increase from the previous week.
Alarmingly, the nation recorded 47,029 cases on July 19, the highest number in six months since January 11, when 47,290 cases were reported. KDCA officials have issued warnings that if the current trend continues, the number of cases may soon surpass 50,000.
Experts attribute the surge in cases to the easing of quarantine measures, such as the removal of the mask mandate, and weakened immunity caused by the emergence of new mutations.
Dr Jung Jae-hun, a professor of infectious disease at Gachon University School of Medicine told local COVID-19 News
outlets, that the recent spread of the virus was a predicted epidemic. He highlighted that mutations capable of evading existing immunity continue to emerge, and even with ‘herd immunity’, the effectiveness of infection prevention diminishes over time. Dr Jung also raised the possibility of hidden infections, indicating that some individuals might be reluctant to get tested after quarantine rules were relaxed in June.
The gravity of the situation, according to Dr Jung, is much larger than it appears, with the number of confirmed cases likely on par with the figures from the previous winter wave.
He predicted that around 10-15 percent of the population may test positive again during this current viral wave. These stark warnings have raised concerns about the government's plans to transition to the second phase of daily life restoration, which aims to manage COVID-19 similar to the flu. Under this plan, mandatory face masks for vulnerable facilities would be lifted, case counting would cease, and the government would no longer subsidize testing and treatment costs related to COVID-19.
Amid growing concerns, health authorities assured the public that they are closely monitoring the situation. Decisions about transitioning to the second phase of daily recovery will be based on a comprehensive review of the current domestic and international epidemic and prevention situation.
In response to the escalating crisis, the government has announced plans to introduce a new vaccine targeting the Omicron XBB family variant in October. This vaccine will be made available free of charge to the entire population, aiming to bolster vaccination efforts and
curb the spread of the virus.
No one yet knows whether these new vaccines really will work and if they are safe!
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