The government predicted that it would be able to consider the transition to the quarantine system in earnest starting in November, right after 70% of the entire population has completed the vaccination against the novel COVID-19 infection. Many people have been struggling with the continued variation, massive spread, and the collapsing economy due to COVID-19. However, the vaccination rate is increasing, and the mortality rate is decreasing worldwide. Therefore, to ‘end’ COVID-19, we have to get into the position of ‘Living with Corona,’ which means accepting it as such a disease, focusing on managing ‘critical patients’ and restoring daily life, rather than maintaining this difficult situation for everyone. WHO (The World Health Organization) said COVID-19 is likely to mutate like the flu and continue to exist. Perhaps COVID-19 will remain in our daily lives like another strain of flu, so we always have to be careful and get vaccinated periodically. It is literally “Living with Corona.”
With a situation like this, some countries, including the UK, the United States, Israel, and Singapore, are actually pushing for Living with Corona. In the case of the UK, on July 19, ‘Free Day’ was declared, and all meeting restrictions and facility business restrictions were lifted. In crowded indoor facilities, such as public transportation, wearing a mask is strongly recommended, but wearing a mask itself is not mandatory; It is individual’s choice. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “If it is not done now, it will be difficult to lift the regulations,” adding, “It is time to learn to live ‘with’ COVID-19, and we will leave quarantine measures to each other without regulating them by law.” Although quarantine regulations have almost disappeared in the UK, there are still regulations that remain in a strong tone. Some examples of the regulation include not letting people to go into self-quarantine or going to work if feeling bad, undergo tests if suspicious symptoms occur, and to go into self-quarantine for 10 days regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not.
As of September 3, the UK’s vaccination rate was 63.41%. The number of COVID-19 confirmed patients in the UK rose to more than 50,000 in mid-July, and then decreased to around 20,000. However, it had been on the rise again recently, and based on the Johns Hopkins CSSE’s COVID-19 daily reports on September 6, the number of new confirmed cases was 36,515. Then the UK has proposed a ‘vaccine passport,’ instead of avoiding lockdown. On September 5, vice minister of political affairs, Nadim Zahawi, announced that he would introduce a ‘COVID-19 vaccine passport’ at each location where large crowds gather by the end of September. The implementation of the vaccine passport was still undecided, and Scotland said that more than 500 people indoors and 4,000 people outdoors will be eligible if they introduce vaccine passports to venues where more than 10,000 people gather without sitting down by the end of this month.
Korean government was also trying to review Living with Corona. In response, an official from the Central Disaster Management
Headquarters said at a regular briefing, “By November, we expect that it will be a situation where we can review the daily recovery measures step-by-step.” As vaccinations expand, 70% of the entire population will complete their vaccinations by the end of October, and the effect of blocking transmission and reducing the critical/fatal rate will begin in earnest. Seven out of 10 Koreans are also in favor of the transition to Living with Corona. According to the 6th public perception survey conducted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare on 1,000 adult men and women, 20.2% of respondents chose ‘very much in favor,’ and 53.1% chose ‘alternatively in favor’ to Living with Corona. Now, the quarantine staff is discussing how to take the transition to a quarantine system that is suitable to our situation, along with establishing the concept of the term with COVID-19. A large framework outline is expected to be announced by the end of October. Meanwhile, regarding the Living with Corona quarantine system, the Blue House also stressed that “Living with Corona doesn’t mean taking off the mask.” Jeong Eun-kyung, head of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also said that masks must be worn even if the quarantine system changes. As COVID-19 mutations continue to occur despite the expansion of vaccinations, and the spread of infections continues around the world, it will be necessary that the quarantine system should be changed to living with COVID-19, which means coexisting with the disease while enduring inconveniences in daily life, instead of a complete end.
Now is the time for us to think about running through the Korean Living with Corona process. Up till now, the main focus of government policy was on confirmed patients and on the possibility of the collapse of the medical system. On the other hand, when converted to Living with Corona, home treatment naturally expands. Young, asymptomatic, and low risk factors for severe illness can be treated at home without going to a residential treatment center. ST think it is practically difficult to completely end COVID-19, which produces mutations within mutations. However, the only shortcut to returning to a healthy daily life is for all citizens to comply with quarantine rules, and to form collective immunity through vaccination, such as colds and flu symptoms.
In the end, Living with Corona is an inevitable choice for cliff-edge freedom that everyone must live by. The citizens themselves should do more in the campaign to promote immunity by actively supporting vaccination and preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Also, local communities must thoroughly prepare for pan-citizens with COVID-19 through efforts to strengthen health and health functions. Therefore, ST hope that the whole family can take off their masks and go through the step-by-step recovery of daily life with health, happiness, and joy as soon as possible.
Kim Seo-young (Planning Editor)