Prime minister urges striking doctors to immediately return to work
SEOUL, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Wednesday urged doctors on strike against the government’s medical reform plans to immediately return to work, saying any collective action that holds patients’ lives hostage is intolerable.
“I urge the doctors who went on collective action to return immediately to their medical workplaces in compliance with the government’s order,” Chung said during a regular government COVID-19 response meeting.
“The public will never tolerate collective action that holds the lives of patients hostage.”
Protesting the government’s medical reform plans that include raising admission quotas at medical schools, tens of thousands of doctors, including trainees and full-time doctors, went on a three-day full-scale strike Wednesday.
The walkout forced the country’s five major general hospitals to reduce clinic hours and postpone scheduled surgeries, dealing a heavy blow to medical services.
In response, the government invoked an official order, requiring striking doctors in the greater Seoul area, where new coronavirus infections have surged, to return to work.
The prime minister said the country’s quarantine system is facing the worst crisis in combating the coronavirus pandemic.
“The quarantine system is nearing its limits … if the condition does not improve, the country may be put in a position to consider raising the social distancing requirements to the (highest) Level Three,” he said.
“But the decision will not be easy because the elevation will put nearly all of the country’s economic and social activities on hold,” he added.
Source: Yonhap News Agency