SEOUL, March 16 (Yonhap) -- Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum on Wednesday asked health officials to consider adjusting the infectious disease level of COVID-19 to better cope with surging cases.
The novel coronavirus is currently classified as "Class 1 infectious disease," the highest in the four-tier classification that falls under the same category with diseases like the Ebola virus and the Middle East respiratory syndrome.
The Class 1 infection diseases require high-level isolation, such as negative pressure isolation, and immediate reporting on the outbreak.
But some doctors pointed out it is difficult to meet response measures required for the Class 1 infection diseases as the daily COVID-19 cases are over 400,000, while most treatments are currently carried out by small clinics that do not have enough medical resources.
"To better deal with COVID-19 under our response system, I ask health authorities to start discussing adjusting the infection disease level of COVID-19 with the medical community," Kim said.
Health authorities recently allowed virus patients hospitalized with minor symptoms to receive treatment at general hospital wards in a move to focus their medical resources on reducing serious COVID-19 patients and deaths.
Citing experts, Kim said the current COVID-19 wave driven by the omicron variant is expected to pass its peak soon.
Kim said the government will also announce its decision on social distancing measures on Friday.
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