Seoul, Dec 8 (EFE).- South Korea on Wednesday exceeded 7,000 daily Covid-19 infections for the first time, setting a new record amid growing concern about the number of serious cases, which reached another all-time high, and the Omicron variant.
The country recorded 7,175 new infections, which is 2,221 more than the previous day and the largest daily jump since the start of the pandemic.
This figure was also well above the previous daily record of 5,352 cases registered on Saturday, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
The number of critically ill patients, which has been increasing in recent weeks amid an easing of restrictions, in turn reached a record figure of 840.
An average of 50 deaths per day have also been recorded in the last week.
The authorities are working to increase the availability of ICU beds in the capital region, “but still it is tough to catch up with the pace of rising virus cases,” Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said at a government meeting on Wednesday, local news agency Yonhap reported.
Some 80 percent of the total infections are being recorded in the capital area, where more than half of the country’s population is concentrated.
Pressure on the healthcare system has led the government to focus its efforts on improving at-home treatment systems to prevent hospitals from collapsing, and it plans to start providing oral Covid-19 medication from early 2022, Kim said.
The South Korean prime minister called for extensive epidemiological investigation and swift testing to contain the new Omicron variant, which is believed to be more contagious, and of which the country has 38 cases so far.
He also urged people over 60 years, who account for 35 percent of all cases and 84 percent of critically ill patients, to get booster shots, and for those under 18 years, accounting for 22 percent of infections with 99 percent of those cases among the unvaccinated, to complete their vaccinations.
The South Korean authorities have decided to tighten social distancing measures following the surge in cases.
Since Monday, the maximum number of people allowed at gatherings in the Seoul area have been reduced to six and to eight in the rest of the country.
The country currently requires people to present a so-called vaccine pass or negative coronavirus test result in order to enter high-risk businesses, including saunas, bars and gyms. EFE