SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s president says the country will offer free COVID-19 vaccinations to all its people in phases.
President Moon Jae-in made the comment in his New Year’s address on Monday. The government earlier announced that inoculations will start in February.
South Korean officials have said they’ll have vaccines for 56 million people, an amount seemingly enough for the country’s 52 million people.
Officials say they’ll work out detailed inoculation plans later this month. They say those recommended to get vaccinations first will include medical personnel, elderly people, adults with chronic diseases, police and soldiers.
After surging for weeks, South Korea’s virus caseload has gradually slowed amid tough social distancing rules that include a ban on gatherings of five or more people. Earlier Monday, South Korea reported 451 new virus cases, the first time its daily tally has fallen below 500 in 41 days. The country’s total stands at 69,114, including 1,140 deaths.
Moon said that “the end of the dark tunnel is finally coming into sight.” He said the government will make its best effort to further curb the ongoing outbreak.