South Korea sets new Covid case record, to reimpose restrictions

Seoul, Dec 15 (EFE).- South Korea hit a new record of daily Covid-19 infections on Wednesday as the government prepared to reimpose social restrictions to halt the spread of the virus and alleviate pressure on hospitals.

The number of new cases in the past 24 hours hit 7,850, and critically ill patients also reached a new high of 964, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

Seventy-five percent of the new infections are occurring in the capital region, where more than half of the country’s 51 million population live.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said he is trying to ensure the availability of some 5,800 extra hospital beds, as nearly 1,500 critically ill patients were on Tuesday waiting for a bed in intensive care.

The volume of infections has been increasing from 4,000 to almost 8,000 a day since South Korea lifted several restrictions on Nov. 1.

The country, one of those that have best managed the pandemic so far, has been registering record volumes of serious cases and deaths since then. Deaths from Covid-19 since November account for 35.1 percent of the pandemic total.

Because around 30 percent of new infections are in those over 60 years of age, a population that was vaccinated at the beginning of the year, the government is trying to speed up the administration of booster doses. At the same time it’s also trying to accelerate the vaccination of the group that accounts for another 20 percent of new cases – those under 20 years of age.

The country, which due to Omicron has extended until at least Jan. 6 the mandatory 10-day quarantine for new arrivals, on Wednesday reported nine more cases of the new variant for a total of 128.

Kim said the government is considering reducing the maximum private gathering number down from six in the capital region and eight in the rest of the country.

“The government considers the current virus situation to be very serious and plans to implement a much more powerful social distancing scheme,” Kim said.

It is also contemplating reimposing mandatory curfews on the hospitality industry.

The measures will be announced before the end of the week, and in principle will be in force for two weeks. EFE


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