Nearly 60 pct of S. Koreans support shift to ‘living with COVID-19’ strategy: poll

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Almost 60 percent of South Koreans want the nation to shift its COVID-19 response strategy to embrace the pandemic as part of everyday life, as the rate of fully vaccinated people is expected to reach 50 percent next month, a poll showed Monday.

According to the poll of 500 people aged 18 and older conducted by Realmeter on Friday, 58.5 percent of respondents said they support an earlier adoption of the “living with COVID-19” protocol. Another 34.3 percent said they oppose the change, while the remaining 7.2 percent said they are not sure.

The “living with COVID-19” protocol refers to an antivirus scheme focusing on treating patients with severe symptoms instead of efforts to contain the spread of the virus. It will allow people to restore most of their pre-pandemic lives, with only minimum social distancing rules in place.

Jeong Eun-kyeong, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency commissioner, said last month the country can significantly ease virus restrictions after 90 percent of the elderly and 80 percent of adults become fully vaccinated.

As of Saturday, 40.2 percent of people aged above 17 have received their second doses of COVID-19 vaccines, according to health authorities.

The poll showed that every group in terms of age, region and political inclination was in favor of returning to pre-pandemic lifestyles, except for those in their 20s and those based in the southeastern cities of Busan, Ulsan and the neighboring South Gyeongsang Province.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points and a 95 percent confidence level.