South Korea:8000, Daily COVID-19 cases for first time amid Omicron spread

SEOUL: Daily 8,000 cases count of the new Corona virus for the first time in South Korea on Tuesday (Jan 25), as the highly contagious Omicron variant spreads rapidly despite the recent extension of strict social distancing rules to slow infection.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 8,571 cases for Monday, exceeding the previous peak posted in mid-December of 7,848.

The surge fuelled worries about a potentially bigger wave ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays, when tens of millions of Koreans usually travel across the country for family visits.

Health officials said Omicron would likely account for more than 90 per cent of new infections within two to three weeks, while daily numbers could reach 20,000 to 30,000 or even higher.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum issued a special statement on Monday to plead for people to refrain from travel and gatherings during the break, which starts on Saturday.

“It is no different to adding fuel to the raging flames if many people move around the country and meet each other,” he told a briefing.

South Korea has recorded 733,902 COVID-19 infections and 6,540 deaths, KDCA data showed. The country of 52 million has largely been a COVID-19 mitigation success story, with 749,979 total infections and 6,588 deaths.

More than 95 per cent of South Korean adults have been fully vaccinated and nearly 58 per cent have received a booster shot, KDCA data showed.

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