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Moon orders watertight operation of healthcare system

Seoul, Nov 18 (IANS) South Korean President Moon Jae-in instructed his government on Thursday to make all-out efforts to bring the surge in coronavirus cases under control, his spokesperson said.

Moon issued the directive hours after South Korea reported an all-time high of 3,292 new daily cases as the nation continues its transition under the government's "living with Covid-19" scheme, reports Yonhap News Agency.

"The President ordered the government to conduct watertight operations of the anti-virus and health care systems and make all-out efforts to stabilise the situation," spokesperson Park Kyung-mee told reporters.

"In particular, he called for a thorough medical response, given the increase in infections among senior citizens and the increase in critically ill patients," she said.

South Korea has seen a growing number of breakthrough infections as vaccine effectiveness has waned since the first shots were administered earlier this year and with the government's easing of virus curbs under the "living with Covid-19" scheme.

The number of critically ill Covid-19 patients reached 506 on Thursday, down 16 from a record high of 522 the previous day.

Health authorities earlier said the country can stably cope with up to 500 such patients with its current medical capacity.

Park said Moon urged officials to ensure they secure enough hospital beds and prevent lapses in swiftly administering booster shots.

On Wednesday, the government shortened the interval between regular vaccine doses and booster shots for senior citizens and other groups of people.

"The President noted that the return to normalcy has not been smooth in other countries either and that we will do our best to succeed in gradually returning to normal, just as we have overcome various challenges until now," Park said.

Moon also urged the public not to feel anxious and to strictly follow anti-virus protocols while expressing his deep gratitude to medical workers, she added.