Nursing home visits start anew on Tuesday
Nursing homes will start allowing visitors again Tuesday after a more than two-month ban as Covid-19 cases swelled during the summer.
The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters said Monday that it will allow face-to-face meetings in facilities prone to virus infection, including nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals and facilities for people with disabilities starting Tuesday. In-person meetings were allowed in these places in after late April to mark Family Month in May, a series of holidays dedicated to parents and children, but were stopped on July 25 due to a resurgence of Covid-19 infections.
Due to the ban, families could visit their institutionalized relatives but only from behind a transparent barrier, including during the Chuseok harvest holidays in early September.
The government took into consideration that January’s 5.32 percent rate of Covid patients deteriorating into severe illness and 3.1 percent fatality rate fell to 0.42 percent and 0.23 percent in August. It also considered the decreasing number of Covid-19 clusters at the high-risk facilities, dropping from 3,015 infected patients in the fourth week of August to 1,075 in the second week of September.
People wanting to go to the high-risk institutions must make reservations in advance and bring can a negative rapid antigen test result. They must wear face masks and refrain from eating.
Patients or residents will be allowed to go out and even stay out overnight as long as they have received four doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Health authorities warned that stricter rules could be restored in the future depending on the domestic virus situation.
The government completely lifted the mask mandate in all outdoor settings last week. Arrivals to Korea no longer have to take mandatory PCR test after entering.
The government is also reviewing and end to the indoor mask rule.
Lee Ki-il, the second vice minister of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, noted that people would be able to take off their masks in indoor spaces around March during an interview with KBS aired on Sunday night.
“Everything that has a beginning has an end,” he said.
“The Covid-19 pandemic could be almost over next March, so people would be able to take off their masks [indoors] around then,” said Lee.
This was the first time authorities mentioned the lifting of indoor mask mandates.
Two major Covid rules that remain are the indoor mask mandate and the seven-day quarantine for infected people.
The government is also reviewing lifting the quarantine requirement for confirmed patients, which had been postponed indefinitely due to the sixth wave.
Korea reported 12,150 new Covid-19 infections on Monday, which was the lowest figure for a Monday since July 4’s 6,253 cases.
Monday’s tally was down by 14.2 percent from the previous week, and by 37.3 percent from two weeks ago.
The total caseload stands at 24,831,761.
There were 361 patients in critical or serious condition as of Monday midnight, with the figure staying in the 300s for six days in a row.
Twenty more people died on Sunday.
BY SEO JI-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]