Health authorities are set to revise rules on COVID-19 testing and self-isolation to better manage the anticipated fast spread of the omicron variant.
In a Monday briefing, Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong said that limited PCR testing capacity will be adopted in a trial run in four regions where omicron is prevalent - Gwangju, South Jeolla Province, Pyeongtaek and Anseong - beginning on Wednesday.
Senior health official Park Young-jun said the new PCR rules could be applied nationwide later this month or early next month.
The new guidance will prioritize PCR testing to those in high-risk groups, including seniors 60 and above, suspected cases epidemiologically linked to known infections, people who test positive on an antigen test and those at high-risk facilities that require preemptive testing.
Jeong said that rapid antigen tests will be given to all others not at high risk, while people displaying symptoms will get tested and treated at designated medical institutions.
Also starting Wednesday and applied across the country, isolation and vaccination rules will change for people who test positive or those who come in close contact with an infected person.
Confirmed patients who are fully vaccinated must self-isolate for seven days, shorter than the ten days required for those who are partially or not vaccinated.
Fully vaccinated people are defined as those who have had 14 days pass since their third shot or within 90 days after their second shot.
Those fully jabbed who have come into contact with confirmed patients will be exempt from quarantine, though placed under monitoring. Those not considered fully vaccinated must self-isolate for seven days. Both groups will be required to get a PCR test after six to seven days.
Currently, people who come in contact with an omicron patient must self-isolate for ten days regardless of their vaccination status.