SEOUL: South Korean President Moon Jae-in called on the government on Tuesday to prepare for the possibility of the Omicron becoming the dominant Covid variant, while also strengthening the country's medical capacity. Moon made the remarks during a Cabinet meeting after the country reported 49 new omicron cases, bringing the total to 227, according to reports. South Korea's daily Covid-19 cases have recently hovered in the 7,000s, accompanied by an alarming increase in the number of critically ill patients and deaths. "We must prepare," Moon said, "keeping in mind that the omicron variant may soon become the general trend. "If we allow even the smallest crack, Covid-19 can spread at any time." Moon reiterated his calls for the medical response system to be strengthened, saying that the current period of strict social distancing rules must be used to quickly bring the virus situation under control and reduce the number of critically ill Covid-19 patients.
The President was referring to the government's decision last week to halt its programme for a gradual return to normalcy, reinstate curfews during business hours, and reduce the maximum private gathering size to four people. "We must examine where we fell short, learn from our mistakes, and realign our line of battle," he said.
Moon's message came a day after he directed national university hospitals to focus their resources on treating critically ill Covid-19 patients due to a lack of beds.