(LEAD) New cases reach over 2,000 again, Seoul infections at record high

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SEOUL, Aug. 25 (Yonhap) – The daily number of new coronavirus cases in South Korea reached more than 2,000 again on Wednesday, as the Seoul metropolitan area reported a record number of daily cases since the start pandemic amid growing concerns about untraceable and variant cases.

The country added 2,155 more cases of COVID-19, including 2,114 local infections, compared to the previous day, bringing the total number of cases to 241,439, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) .

The latest tally marked a sharp increase from 1,418 cases on Monday and 1,509 cases on Tuesday. The number of patients normally decreases over the weekend and increases later in the week as more and more people are tested.

Daily cases have remained above 1,000 for 50 consecutive days. On August 11, the country reported a record daily workload of 2,222.

South Korea added nine more deaths from COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 2,237. The death rate stood at 0.93%.

Of the newly confirmed national cases, 673 were from Seoul, the highest since the pandemic began last year. The city’s surrounding Gyeonggi Province had 579, and 117 were from the western port city of Incheon.

Cases have also accumulated in other areas, with the southeastern port city of Busan adding 86 cases and Daegu, 302 kilometers southeast of Seoul, reporting 99 infections. South Gyeongsang Province has confirmed 102 new cases.

Authorities have said that sporadic cluster infections, coupled with untraceable cases, are straining the country’s virus control. Highly contagious delta-contagious infections have also complicated antivirus efforts.

Over the past week, the country has reported 3,062 cases of COVID-19 variants, 99% of which are the delta strain.

The wider Seoul region, where half of the country’s 52 million people live, has been subject to level 4 restrictions, the highest of the four-level virus restrictions, in the past six weeks.

Other areas have implemented Level 3 distancing over the past four weeks, although some areas, including the southern resort island of Jeju, have adopted the highest level of virus restrictions. Current social distancing measures will be in effect until September 5.

Health officials added more restrictions in the capital region this week, allowing restaurants and cafes to have diners only until 9 p.m., an hour earlier than the previous curfew.

Gatherings of more than five people are prohibited below level 4, with the ceiling lowered to just two after 6 p.m.

South Korea said the current level of infections is within a manageable level for the country’s medical infrastructure, although daily cases above 2,500 may cause longer-term problems.

The number of patients with severe symptoms across the country reached 434, up 14 from the previous day.

On Wednesday, 26.7 million people, or 52% of the population, received their first injections of the COVID-19 vaccine. About 25.1% were fully immunized, the KDCA said.

The government aims to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the country’s population by September to create herd immunity in November.

Imported cases, which include South Korean nationals, amounted to 41.

By country, the United States accounted for five, followed by Turkey and Tajikistan with four each.

The total number of people released from quarantine after fully recovering was 211,177, up 1,984 from the previous day. This indicates that 87.5% of the patients reported here are cured.

South Korea has conducted 12,806,613 COVID-19 tests so far, including 56,857 the day before.


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