South Korea reports record COVID-19 cases

·1-min read

South Korea has reported a record 3292 new coronavirus cases, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) says, as the country moves into the first phase of its "living with COVID-19" with loosened restrictions.

A rise in cases was predicted by officials and experts after many social distancing restrictions were lifted earlier this month after the country surpassed its goal of vaccinating 70 per cent of its 52 million people.

More than 78.5 per cent are fully vaccinated, including more than 90 per cent of adults.

The KDCA says a rise in serious cases is also being driven by the waning effects of vaccines provided to vulnerable groups such as the elderly earlier on in the process, leading to an increase in breakthrough infections.

As of Thursday there were 506 serious cases, down slightly from a record 522 reported a day before.

To blunt that spike the KDCA on Wednesday said it had decided to shorten the dosing interval for booster shots for people 60 or older and those who live or work at nursing homes and other vulnerable facilities to four months.

Hospital beds are being filled rapidly around the greater Seoul area, with only about 30 per cent of intensive care units (ICUs) left available as of Wednesday.

The KDCA said it would consider issuing a circuit breaker on the relaxed distancing curbs if more than 75 per cent of ICU beds are used nationwide and other factors pose high risks.

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