A South Korean doctor has sparked backlash after claiming that people who are yet to catch Covid-19 don't have friends.
The remarks came on a day that South Korea recorded more than 400,000 new Covid cases, amid a worldwide surge of the Omicron variant.
“The adults who have not yet been infected with Covid-19 are those who have interpersonal problems," Ma Sang-hyuk, who is Vice-President of the Korean Vaccine Society, wrote on Facebook.
The Independent reports the doctor deleted the 16 March post following an initial backlash, before claiming the remark was merely metaphorical and a misunderstanding on the part of the media.
In an interview with South Korean news site Daily, he clarified his position: “It emphasised how difficult it is for anyone to avoid the virus in a situation where there is a high rate of confirmed cases in the area.”
The Korean government is set to press on with the removal of all social distancing restrictions in the coming days and weeks, in spite of the recent spike in new cases, and public opinion appears to support this action.
The KDCA estimates that 86.6 percent of the South Korean population is now fully vaccinated, which perhaps explains the government's measured approach when it comes to rising Covid numbers.
In fact, according to a government analysis of some 141,000 Omicron cases reported in the country over the past 12 months, no deaths among people under 60 who had received the booster shot had been reported.
“We see this could be the last major crisis in our Covid responses, and if we overcome this crisis, it would bring us nearer to normal lives,” Mr Young-rae, a Korean health ministry official stated at a recent press briefing.
Meanwhile, Mr Sang-Hyuk's comments attracted a wide range of responses online, but as well as backlash, many were light-hearted in nature.