The quarantine authorities on Thursday lowered their forecast for the peak of daily Covid-19 cases to 150,000.
“According to several mathematical analysis groups, the majority opinion is that the peak will come in August,” said Lee Sang-won, head of the epidemiological investigation and analysis team at the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters. “As such mathematical analysis groups expect that daily cases will peak between 110,000 to 190,000, and we believe that virus daily cases will peak around 150,000, which is the median value.”
However, there are concerns that virus cases will plateau at a level slightly higher than the level shown in the spring peak time, Lee added.
Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) Commissioner Peck Kyong-ran also said, “While I have repeatedly stressed that Korea may see up to 250,000 cases or more cases a day when I talked about August forecasts in June and July, with the recent decline in the number of patients, we expect that the current outbreak will peak around less than 200,000, which is lower than originally expected.”
Earlier, the government had expected that new virus cases would peak at around 300,000.
The government announced additional steps on July 20 to prepare for Covid-19 resurgence by, for instance, securing 4,000 hospital beds, based on the initial prediction.
However, recent Covid-19 daily trends seem to be not as severe as initially estimated, the government said.
According to the KCDA, R0, or an estimated reproductive rate of how many people may contract the virus from one infected person, has fallen from 1.29 in the fourth week of July to 1.13 on Monday.
“We have not entered a declining stage yet as the R0 has not fallen below 1,” Peck said.
“Although the peak is lower than we initially expected, the outbreak may last for some time.”
Peck also stressed that factors such as decreasing immunity among Koreans, the possibility of new variants, and increased social contact during the summer holidays, can change the situation.
Therefore, citizens need to remain alert, she said.
The Ministry of Education announced that all kindergartners and elementary, middle, and high school students will return to school for face-to-face classes for the second semester.
The education ministry also stressed that it will not conduct a nationwide Covid-19 test for all students as it did during the first semester.
Instead, the ministry will provide two rapid antigen test kits to all students and faculties, and recommend that they receive the test at home for those who have any suspicious symptoms.
Students must also enter their health status into the self-diagnosis app before going to school and confirmed students will not be able to attend school for seven days.
On Thursday, the KDCA confirmed 107,894 new virus cases raising the cumulative caseload to 20,160,154. An additional 34 people died of Covid-19, lifting the death toll to 25,144, with a fatality rate of 0.13 percent.
Korea recorded the highest number of critically ill patients in three months on Thursday after reporting 310 cases.
According to the agency, about 44.65 million among 52 million Koreans have been fully vaccinated. In addition, about 33.47 million people had received their first booster shots, and 5.88 million had their second booster shots.