Regarding the recent social atmosphere in support of “Coexisting with COVID-19,” Kim Boo-gyeom, the Prime Minister of Korea, said that it was too early to say Coexisting with COVID-19, and the government should wait and see how the situation goes. Then, what is coexisting with COVID-19? It refers to a concept which appeared as the pandemic is being prolonged due to strong mutant viruses and breakthrough infections. This means that rather than expecting a complete end of COVID-19, a new quarantine system that lowers the fatality rate should be introduced to prepare for coexisting with the virus.
When the first COVID-19 confirmed case came out in Korea early last year, I thought this situation would end soon. However, the spread of the virus has not stopped, and it has continued over a year. To get out of the chaotic situation, the world has been focusing on vaccine development, dreaming the end of COVID-19. Experts had expected the COVID-19 to end after the so-called collective immunity, in which more than 70 percent of the population was vaccinated. However, in the United Kingdom (UK), where most of the vaccinations have been completed, some say that the completion of collective immunity and the global end of COVID-19 are impossible because of the mutant virus that continues to appear, so humanity in the future must coexist with this virus. Many countries around the world have chosen to coexist with the virus by implementing coexisting with COVID-19 policies. However, Korea is still skeptical about coexisting with COVID-19, so what is the reason?
In Korea, in the early days of the pandemic, the spread of the virus was the second most serious after China, which was the origin of the virus. However, since the sudden spread of the virus in Korea was a “mass infection” in churches and bars, it was relatively easy to find and block the spread of infected people. Therefore, Korea has attracted the world’s attention under the name of “K-quarantine” through active epidemiological investigations and analytical management of confirmed patients. Korea, which has been striving for thorough quarantine, has no choice but to be skeptical about the coexisting with COVID-19, which has to give up its quarantine system.
However, now we have to coexist with COVID-19. Blocking the market economy and preventing travel continuously will lead to great opposition and resistance from the people. Koreans have generally cooperated with K- quarantine so far because they comply with government policies. However, no one knows what action citizens, who have been exhausted after more than a year of “social distancing,” will take in the future. Is it possible to conquer the virus? Humanity conquered smallpox in 1980, but took decades to reach that point. Assuming that it will take decades to end the COVID-19 situation, wearing masks and not gathering may not be the only right way. Rather, it would be wiser to treat the COVID-19 like a flu and coexist with it in a daily life.
We tried to block COVID-19, but our lives were rather blocked. Since we realized lately that truly beating the COVID-19 is “coexistence” with it, we now have to learn how to coexist with this virus.
Yang Ji-min Yangtanja8@naver.com
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