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Moon says phased return to normalcy faces challenges on omicron concerns

09:17 December 02, 2021

By Kim Deok-hyun

SEOUL, Dec. 2 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in said Thursday the nation's plan to gradually return to normal life is facing challenges, as the first cases of the omicron variant were detected in South Korea amid growing woes over an ongoing jump in COVID-19 infections.

"The path toward a phased return to normalcy is not smooth, and risks over the new omicron variant are growing," Moon told a meeting of a national prayer group, the Korea National Prayer Breakfast.

Moon said, however, the government will spare no efforts to overcome the current challenge and proceed along the path toward a return to normal daily life.

Moon's remarks came a day after health authorities detected the omicron in five people, including a fully vaccinated couple who had visited Nigeria from Nov. 14-23.

Nat'l prayer service

South Korea decided to reimpose strict passenger screening at airports, mandatory quarantine and other measures to prevent the spread of the emerging omicron variant.

Since early last month, South Korea has seen a sharp jump in daily coronavirus infections after the government started its first phase of the "living with COVID-19" scheme.

Before easing some social distancing rules, daily infections hovered around 2,000 in late October. This week, daily infections jumped to around 5,000. In a worrisome development, critically ill patients hit an all-time high, fanning concerns over a shortage of hospital beds.

Earlier this week, Moon said the government is holding off the transition to the second phase of easing containment rules and will implement special anti-epidemic measures over the next four weeks.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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