News World South Korea reports record COVID infections

South Korea reports record COVID infections

South Korea COVID
South Korea's government has shelved plans to further relax COVID-19 curbs. Photo: AAP
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South Korea has reported a new daily record of 5123 new coronavirus cases as the country battles to contain a sharp rise in patients with severe symptoms and stave off the Omicron variant.

The government on Monday shelved plans to further relax COVID-19 curbs due to the strain on its healthcare system from rising hospitalisations and deaths as well as the threat posed by the new variant.

Hospitals were treating a record number of 723 patients with severe COVID-19 that require ICU beds, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Wednesday, as the authorities scrambled to secure more.

The severe cases have seen a steep rise compared with just under 400 in early November.

More than 84 per cent of the severely ill COVID-19 patients were aged 60 and above. Experts had pointed to waning antibody levels from the vaccines and urged the elderly to get booster shots.

Authorities would mobilise the administrative structure to secure hospital beds, at least an additional 1300 by mid-December, Interior and Safety Minister Jeon Hae-cheol told a COVID-19 response meeting.

He also called for tighter virus prevention measures to head off Omicron after suspected cases entered the country from Nigeria.

South Korea has not reported any confirmed Omicron cases so far.

Tuesday’s new cases bring the coronavirus infections in the country to 452,350 cases, with 3658 deaths.

South Korea has fully vaccinated nearly 80 per cent of its 52 million people, while the boosters for adults aged 18 to 49 begin this Saturday.