The health ministry will consider reviewing its tentative classification of COVID-19, made under the infectious disease law, it was learned Wednesday.
COVID-19 is currently classified under Category II Infectious Diseases, the second highest on the five-notch scale on the level of danger of designated infectious diseases. The ministry is expected to consider lowering the classification for the coronavirus disease, informed sources said.
People infected with Category II diseases are advised to be hospitalized and urged to stop attending work temporarily.
With a recent increase in COVID-19 patients with light symptoms placing heavy burdens on medical institutions and public health centers, however, experts are stressing the need to limit hospitalization to elderly patients and those with the high risk of developing severe symptoms.
An advisory panel for the health ministry plans to discuss related issues and report the results to the government’s task force on measures against the new coronavirus.
On Feb. 1, COVID-19 was classified under Category II, the same level as for such diseases as the severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.
The designation also obliged doctors to report to public health centers immediately if they confirm infected people. Medical costs caused by hospitalization will be covered with public funds.
Meanwhile, one analysis suggests that the death rate among COVID-19 patients has declined as the number of patients with no or light symptoms increased in the second wave of infections, believed to have started in June.
The health ministry advisory panel decided Monday to start discussions on the classification of COVID-19 under the law, saying that knowledge has been accumulated on the disease, such as that elderly people and people with underlying conditions tend to suffer severe symptoms.
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