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S. Korea's new COVID-19 cases hit fresh high of 17,532 amid Lunar New Year holiday

30 January 2022 14:46

SEOUL. KAZINFORM - South Korea's daily COVID-19 cases reached an all-time high of 17,532 on Sunday amid a rapid spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant as people headed to their hometowns or went on trips during the Lunar New Year holiday, Yonhap reports.

The country reported 17,532 new COVID-19 infections, including 17,303 local cases, raising the total to 828,637, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

The daily count broke the record for the sixth consecutive day, spiking from 8,570 on Tuesday.

Authorities had earlier said Saturday's tally reached 17,542 but corrected the caseload to 17,526, citing erroneous reporting.

The government urged people to refrain from traveling during the holiday to prevent the spread of COVID-19, warning the infection tally could surge to as many as 100,000 a day in the next several weeks.

This year's Lunar New Year holiday runs from Monday to Wednesday and is extended by two days due to the preceding weekend.

The death toll from COVID-19 came to 6,732, up 20 from Saturday. The fatality rate stood at 0.81 percent.

The number of critically ill COVID-19 patients was 277, down 11 from the previous day.

On Saturday, South Korea introduced a revised virus response system to tackle the omicron wave.

Some 250 testing stations set up at public health centers and large hospitals began providing both rapid antigen self-tests and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. People can choose which one they want to take.

People aged over 60 or in high-risk groups, such as those with underlying illnesses, are prioritized for PCR tests.

Local hospitals and clinics will also administer self-test kits beginning Thursday.

The KDCA said the revised regime is designed to minimize critical cases and deaths, while preventing an overload and collapse of the medical system.

The system will expand nationwide after the three-day holiday.

Of the locally transmitted cases Sunday, Gyeonggi Province that surrounds Seoul reported 5,662 new COVID-19 cases, followed by Seoul with 4,157 and the western port city of Incheon with 1,306.

As of Sunday, 27 million people, or 53 percent of the country's 52 million population, had received booster shots, the KDCA said. The number of fully vaccinated people came to 44 million people, accounting for 86 percent.