The government plans to release a detailed explanation of the criteria for adjusting its indoor mask mandate by Friday of next week.
Health minister Cho Kyoo-hong revealed the intention on Wednesday while chairing a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters, saying that the government will make preparations for improved everyday life amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health authorities will hold a debate on Thursday to begin gathering expert opinions on adjusting the indoor mask mandate.
The government initially considered lifting the mandate no earlier than March, but appeared to have changed the stance following moves by some regional governments to lift the restrictions through administrative orders.
Earlier this month, the nation's chief adviser on infectious diseases, Jung Ki-suck, said that the mandate could be lifted as early as next month.
On the pandemic, the health minister said the nation’s reproduction rate of COVID-19 stands at one-point-04, surpassing one for the eighth week. A number above one means that the average COVID-19 patient infects more than one other person, indicating that the virus is spreading.
He noted that the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases reached 27-point-nine million, or roughly 54 percent of the nation’s population, and the rate of reinfection cases surged to 14-point-seven percent.
Cho also cited that 92-and-a-half percent of the 360 people who died from the virus last week were 60 or older, but the rate of bivalent booster inoculation among that age bracket stands at only 24-point-nine percent, well below the 50 percent target.