The first confirmed cases of a COVID-19 variant from India have been detected in South Korea.
In a press briefing on Sunday, Senior Health Ministry official Sohn Young-rae said that there have been 94 arrivals from India since January confirmed with the virus, and that nine of them were found to be carrying the more contagious variant.
Sohn said authorities are monitoring the situation as there is still scarce information on the transmission and fatality rate of the Indian variant. It has yet to be classified as a major variation.
Meanwhile, South Korea began COVID-19 vaccinations for health care workers and airline crew members on Monday, speeding up its vaccine drive.
Shots for police, fire officials and soldiers will also be pushed up to start as early as this month.
The changes come as the volume of available vaccines has opened up after AstraZeneca inoculations for people under the age of 30 were postponed over blood clot concerns. However, the global vaccine supply still remains a variable, especially following news that the U.S. is considering "booster shots," or a third vaccine dose.
In consideration of the supply situation, South Korea has increased the interval between the first and second doses of the AstraZeneca shot to 12 weeks. Over one-point-five million people have received their first shots so far. More than 60-thousand have completed their two-dose regimen.
In a virus response meeting Sunday, acting Prime Minister Hong Nam-ki said the goal is to vaccinate three million people by April and 12 million over the first half of the year to achieve herd immunity by November.