S.Korea reports record 90,443 COVID cases, daily count doubles in a week

Seoul, February 16 (Reuters): South Korea on Wednesday reported a daily record of 90,443 new coronavirus cases, as numbers nearly doubled within a week amid the spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant.

The record count for Tuesday marked a drastic surge from 57,177 a day before and brought total infections in the country since the pandemic began to 1,552,851. Deaths remain comparatively low, though, with 39 fatalities on Tuesday and a total of 7,202 so far, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

The country of 52 million population has largely been a COVID-19 mitigation success story, thanks mainly to widespread wearing of masks, social distancing and aggressive testing and tracing.

But authorities have shifted testing and tracing policy, in line with the less fatal Omicron variant’s spread, toward self-monitoring and diagnosis and at-home treatment starting this month.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said the government was considering easing the current strict distancing curbs which include a 9 p.m. curfew for restaurants, cafes and bars, and a ban on gatherings of more than six vaccinated people.

More than 86% of South Koreans have been fully vaccinated and 58% have received a booster shot, KDCA data showed.

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Source: Reuters