People infected with the Omicron coronavirus variant are nearly 75% less likely to contract serious illness or die than those who contract the Delta variant, according to practice data released Monday by South Korea’s health authorities. .
A Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) survey of approximately 67,200 infections confirmed since December showed that the severity and death rates of the Omicron variant were 0.38% and 0.18%, respectively, compared to 1 .4% and 0.7% for the Delta cases.
The KDCA classified severe cases as people who were hospitalized in intensive care units.
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The study found that about 56% of 1,073 people who died in the past five weeks had not been vaccinated or had received only one dose, the study found, with 94% of deaths occurring in people 60 years of age or older. caused.
More than 86% of South Korea’s 52 million residents have been double vaccinated and nearly 60% have received booster vaccinations.
South Korea had kept the number of cases and deaths relatively low thanks to widespread social distancing measures and aggressive testing and detection.
The Omicron variant has led to an increase in cases – daily new infections hit a record 100,000 last week – but authorities have continued to relax social distancing rules somewhat amid the lower death rate and in the lead-up to the presidential election next month.
Contact tracing and mandatory isolation for vaccinated people were scrapped in favor of self-diagnosis and home treatment to free up medical resources. Under the strict curfew changes, restaurants will be open for an extra hour for groups of up to eight diners, from six.
The long-running curfews have emerged as a political hot potato in the run-up to the election, with small business owners pushing for them to be lifted, while some experts warn of likely strain on the medical system.
The KDCA said that Omicron became the dominant variant in the third week of January and that up to 90% of new cases were Omicron in the first week of February.
The KDCA reported 99,444 new cases for Monday, bringing the total number of infections to 2,157,734, with 7,508 deaths.