| 20 April 2024, Saturday |

South Korea reports 668 new COVID-19 cases, highest daily count in 3 months

South Korea reported on Wednesday 668 new COVID-19 cases for Tuesday, the highest daily count since Jan. 8 amid a surge in cluster infections, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

The new infections bring the country’s total cases to 106,898, with 1,756 deaths, with the latest spike centered around clusters in kindergartens, bars, saunas and churches. More than 63% of new cases were found in Seoul and neighboring regions, including Gyeonggi province, KDCA data revealed.

Authorities said they would expand testing efforts to trace transmission nationwide through epidemiological surveys and preemptive testing.

“If the fourth wave of infections becomes a reality, a disruption to vaccination would be inevitable, as well as dealing a big blow to our economy,” Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

“The cabinet is maximizing efforts to prevent the fourth wave by mobilizing all means possible,” he said.

Health officials urged the public to abstain from non-essential gatherings and strictly log visits to crowded venues, such as cafes, restaurants and karaoke bars to facilitate epidemiological work in case of any outbreak.

Yoon Tae-ho, a senior health ministry official, told a briefing that South Korea is well-equipped with medical resources and enough hospital beds to cover up to 1,000 daily confirmed infections over a 20-day period.

“Yet once the fourth wave takes off, there is a possibility the number of patients will spike, so we will continue to secure more beds and take regional measures,” said Yoon.

Health authorities also said they will announce new social distancing rules on Friday after discussion with experts and local governments.

The country has so far administered over a million doses of vaccine among medical workers and high-risk groups since the start of its vaccination drive in February, yet authorities face a backlash for relying on the global vaccine-sharing program COVAX, which has run into delays.

  • Reuters