SEOUL: South Korea’s new daily COVID-19 cases rose above 7,000 for the first time, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said on Wednesday (Dec 8), putting hospital capacity under strain as deaths and severe cases rise.
Infections in South Korea have skyrocketed this month after the government began to ease restrictions under a so-called “living with COVID-19” scheme in November.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 7,175 new coronavirus cases and 63 deaths for Tuesday, and hospitals are treating a record 840 critical and serious cases.
The government will mobilise additional personnel to oversee coronavirus patients treating themselves at home and improve the emergency transfer system to hospitals for those who develop severe symptoms, Kim told a COVID-19 response meeting. Private clinics will also treat COVID-19 patients in addition to large hospitals.
Kim urged the elderly to get booster shots as over 35 per cent of infections were found in people aged 60 and above, who account for 84 per cent of severe cases. He also urged adolescents to get vaccinated.
South Korea has so far confirmed 38 cases of the Omicron variant.
With 80 per cent of cases in greater Seoul, authorities have struggled to secure enough beds for hospitalised patients in the area.
South Korea imposed stricter measures on Monday, including reduced numbers of people allowed at private gatherings and expanding vaccine pass mandates.
The country has so far reported a total of 489,484 COVID-19 cases, with 4,020 deaths. It has fully vaccinated 91.8 per cent of its adult population aged 18 and above, KDCA data showed.