SEOUL, Dec. 30 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in on Thursday urged health authorities to come up with sustainable containment measures against COVID-19, as the nation is struggling to cope with a recent surge in the number of critically ill patients and deaths.
Health authorities have sought to secure an additional 10,000 hospital beds for patients with moderate to serious cases of COVID-19 by the middle of next month, raising their total number to 25,000.
"COVID-19 is not a temporary infectious disease, so securing beds, medical systems and containment systems should be sustainable," Moon told a meeting with senior officials at state and public hospitals, according to presidential spokesperson Park Kyung-mee.
Moon urged them to prepare for long-term measures to fight against the pandemic, Park said in a written briefing.
Moon has called for national university hospitals to focus their resources on treating critically ill COVID-19 patients and for the government to prepare for a scenario in which the omicron variant becomes the dominant version of COVID-19 in the country.
South Korea's new coronavirus cases stayed above 5,000 for the second day in a row Thursday as authorities weigh whether to extend the current social distancing rules amid concerns over the omicron variant and critical cases.
The number of critically ill COVID-19 patients stood at the second highest of 1,145 on Thursday after reaching an all-time high of 1,151 the previous day. Critical cases have stayed above 1,000 for 10 consecutive days.