SKorea sets daily records for new coronavirus cases and deaths

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea has again broken its daily records for coronavirus infections and deaths and has confirmed three more cases of the new omicron variant as authorities scramble to tighten social distancing and border controls.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea has again broken its daily records for coronavirus infections and deaths and has confirmed three more cases of the new omicron variant as authorities scramble to tighten social distancing and border controls.

The 5,352 new cases reported by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Saturday marked the third time this week that the daily tally has exceeded 5,000. The country’s death toll was 3,809 after a record high of 70 patients infected with the virus died in the past 24 hours, while the 752 patients in severe or critical conditions were also an all time high.

As the delta surge threatens to overwhelm hospital systems, there is also concern about the local spread of the omicron variant, which is considered potentially more infectious than previous strains of the virus.

The country’s omicron case count is now at nine after the KDCA confirmed three more cases. The new cases include the wife, mother-in-law and friend of a man who grabbed the omicron from a couple he drove home from the airport after arriving from Nigeria on November 24. The couple’s teenager and two other women who also traveled to Nigeria were also infected with omicron.

Officials say the number of omicron cases could rise as some of the patients attended a religious rally involving hundreds on November 28.

As the emergence of the omicron has raised global alarm and prompted governments around the world to tighten their borders, scientists say it remains unclear whether the new variant is more contagious, more likely to escape protection provided by vaccines or more likely to cause serious illness than previous versions of the virus.

From next week, private social gatherings of seven or more people will be banned in the densely populated capital of Seoul and neighboring metropolitan areas, which have been hardest hit by the Delta and are now running out of units. intensive care.

To push back omicron, South Korea has asked all passengers arriving from overseas over the next two weeks to self-quarantine for at least 10 days, regardless of their nationality or vaccination status. The country has banned short-term foreign travelers from nine African countries, including South Africa and Nigeria.

Kim Tong-hyung, The Associated Press

Carol N. Valencia