Public Wary of a New COVID Wave: Data

Strong majority opposes relaxation of masking requirements.

Public Wary of a New COVID Wave: Data

Credit: Public domain.

South Korea’s once-hailed position at the forefront of COVID-19 prevention is no more, as the Yoon Suk-yeol 윤석열 administration denounced his predecessor’s highly successful public health measures as “public health by politics 정치방역.” The Yoon administration canceled contact tracing and public assistance for those under quarantine. (See previous coverage, “Sleepwalking into COVID Disaster.”)

The result, predictably, has been a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases. Although the spread of coronavirus is significantly less deadly than at the outset of the pandemic, July 26 saw more than 57k new cases, the biggest increase since January 2023. Nevertheless, the Yoon administration announced that it would soon downgrade COVID-19 from Level 2 to Level 4 on the official infectious diseases scale, placing it on the level of the common flu. Masking requirements will be eliminated everywhere, and the government will stop collecting official statistics for COVID-19 cases. Subsidies for testing will end,, raising the cost of COVID testing tenfold from KRW 5k (USD 3.5) to KRW 50k (USD 35).

A strong majority of the public, 65.47%, opposed the downgrade of COVID-19, according to an August 4 poll from Newstomato 뉴스토마토. The leading reason for opposition was the “clear increase in the number of cases and deaths” (39.91%).

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