Korea will recognize foreign vaccination
Korea will recognize foreign nationals’ vaccination history abroad so they can be verified as “vaccinated” against COVID-19, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), Thursday.
This move is aimed at including them in the “vaccine pass” program and facilitating their receiving of booster shots here.
The KDCA said foreign nationals who have been vaccinated abroad will be able to register their overseas vaccination records on the COOV COVID-19 vaccine app by visiting a local health center with ID and vaccination certificates issued overseas.
So far, such registration for overseas vaccinations was allowed only for Korean nationals, and non-Koreans could complete the registration only if they had quarantine exemption certificates, which are issued for urgent and inevitable entry for business, academic, public or humanitarian reasons.
This measure has left many fully vaccinated foreign nationals categorized as “unvaccinated” in the government system, bringing criticism that the government discriminates against foreigners.
It also prompted foreign embassies here to protest the “unfair” treatment of foreign nationals.
“(Six) embassies have asked the Korean government for urgent recognition of foreign nationals fully vaccinated overseas. They should have the same access rights to public facilities as those Korean nationals fully vaccinated overseas,” the U.S. Embassy here tweeted, Tuesday. The six countries are the U.S., the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and India.
Delegations of the European Union here also posted the same message on Twitter the same day.
Foreign nationals’ vaccine records are recognized under the new measure, and thus they can receive booster shots here. Also they are eligible for to register for vaccine passes, so they can be exempted from mandatory self-quarantine when they re-enter the country or come in close contact with patients, as well as entering multiuse facilities.
Only World Health Organization-approved vaccines are recognized for the system ― Pfizer, Janssen, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Covishield, Sinopharm, Sinovac and Covaxin.
Meanwhile, the KDCA reported 7,102 new COVID-19 infections for Wednesday. The figure was slightly down from 7,147 a day earlier, but still staying above 7,000 for the second straight day. The number of critically ill patients also soared to 857, up from the previous day’s 840.
The accumulated number of Omicron variant infections here rose to 60, up 22 from the previous day.
Amid the growing number of patients, the nation’s medical system is reaching its limit. As of 5 p.m., Wednesday, 85 percent of intensive care unit (ICU) beds were occupied nationally, while Seoul’s current occupied ICU beds has hit 88.4 percent.
In response, there are calls to install large-scale temporary ICUs in gyms or outdoor areas to alleviate the bed shortage. But the government is against the suggestion.
“Beds installed in gyms or built in outdoor tents will not be a good environment for patients, and the quality of medical services will inevitably deteriorate,” senior health ministry official Son Young-rae said in a briefing, Thursday.
Source: The Korea Times