A health worker gets a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Seoul. File/Reuters
South Korea reported 700 new coronavirus cases, its highest daily figure since early January, and the Prime Minister reiterated warnings on Thursday that new social distancing rules would likely be needed.
Wednesday’s tally compares with an average of 477 cases last week, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency and will fuel fears that the country may be facing a fourth wave of infections.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a government meeting a new wave of infections could disrupt South Korea’s vaccination programme which has been suffering delays as the international vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX struggles to provide promised doses on time.
South Korea also said on Wednesday it will temporarily suspend providing AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to people below 60 as it undergoes reviews in Europe.
It also approved a Johnson & Johnson shot in a bid to speed up its inoculation rollout.
Officials have said that a new round of restrictions are likely to be announced as soon as Friday. South Korea currently limits private gatherings of more than four people.
South Korea has to date reported 107,598 infections in total, with 1,758 deaths.
Tackling the coronavirus, COVID-19, has become a Herculean task around the globe. Its relentless expansion across several countries leaves much cause for worry.
South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) announced additional 161 cases and 2 deaths on Monday, bringing the toll to 763 that puts the country third in the list of COVID-19 infected hotspots.
The virus has now infected more than 88,000 people and spread to over 60 countries after first emerging in China late last year. South Korea, the biggest nest of infections outside China, reported nearly 500 new cases on Monday, bringing its total past 4,000.
South Korea has seen a rapid rise in infections in recent days as authorities carry out checks on more than 260,000 people associated with the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a religious group often condemned as a cult that is linked to more than half the cases.
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In addition to the new cases, 1, 854 individuals recovered, three people passed away.