S. Korea’s new COVID-19 cases top 100,000 in over 3 months

SEOUL– South Korea’s new COVID-19 cases surpassed the 100,000 mark for the first time in more than three months on Wednesday as the new wave of an omicron subvariant is spreading fast.

The country added 100,285 new COVID-19 infections, including 532 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 19,446,946, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

Wednesday’s number is the largest since 111,291 reported on April 20 and up from Tuesday’s 99,327. The daily infection cases have soared to the five digits from four digits since late June as the rapid spread of the omicron subvariant BA.5 is taking hold.

The 532 imported cases mark the largest number in the category since South Korea reported its first COVID-19 case in January 2020 in what is believed to be the result of the easing of border restrictions for international travelers.

As of 9 p.m. Wednesday, the country had reported 85,534 additional cases, down 12,083 from the same time Tuesday and 1.24 times the number from a week ago.

Daily cases are counted until midnight and announced the following morning.

Health authorities, however, stressed there will be no rollback of the antivirus restrictions, such as strict social distancing and business hour curfews, despite growing concerns over the virus resurgence.

“We believe that the distancing based on rules to block transmission is no longer effective, and we intend to continue the efforts on the uninterrupted path toward recovery of everyday life to minimize social and economic damage,” KDCA Commissioner Peck Kyong-ran said in a briefing.

Tighter measures, though, will be applied among the public service community until the end of next month, the government announced Wednesday, starting with requiring all public officials to take a rapid antigen test when they return from holidays.

The government said it also recommends all cram schools, where many students spend time during the summer break, to switch to remote classes.

It will also ramp up on-site monitoring and inspection for antivirus and disinfection work at large entertainment establishments, including movie theaters, performance theaters and sports facilities.

On Wednesday, the country added 25 COVID-19 deaths, raising the death toll to 24,932.

The number of critically ill patients stood at 177, up by nine from the previous day.

Health authorities predict that the latest virus uptrend will continue for the next two to three weeks.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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