S.Korea to lift mandatory quarantine for fully vaccinated residents

Nurses prepare doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine centre for senior citizens in Seoul. (Chung Sung-Jun / POOL / AFP)

South Korea said on Wednesday it will offer some exemptions to mandatory quarantine measures for people who have been fully inoculated against COVID-19, in an effort to encourage more vaccinations.

South Korea has so far vaccinated 4 per cent of its 52 million strong population, but has set an ambitious target of giving shots to 70 per cent of its people by September and reaching herd immunity by November.

From May 5, residents who have had both coronavirus vaccine shots will not have to undergo the mandatory two-week quarantine for people who have been in contact with a confirmed patient or have returned from overseas travel, ​Yoon Tae-ho, a senior health ministry official, told a briefing.

The exemption will only apply for those with a negative COVID-19 test and who show no related symptoms.

It will not apply to residents arriving from nations such as South Africa and Brazil where coronavirus variants are prevalent and to people who are vaccinated in foreign countries.

South Korea has procured a total 192 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, enough to administer close to twice its population, including those from Pfizer, AstraZeneca Plc , Moderna Inc, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax.

It has inoculated around 2.68 million people so far with AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines and aims to vaccinate 12 million people by June, although there has been growing vaccine hesitancy due to concerns over reports of blood clotting disorders.

South Korea reported 775 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 120,673, with 1,821 deaths.

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