Seoul Prepares for New Lockdown as Coronavirus Infections Surge in South Korea

People wait in line for a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test at a testing site which is temporarily set up at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, July 7, 2021. REUTERS/ Heo Ran

South Korea posted its highest ever number of new daily Covid-19 infections within 24 hours, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency has said, in a third consecutive day of record high new infections.

Starting on Monday, coronavirus curbs will be tightened to the strictest level possible in Seoul and neighbouring regions for the first time.

The country reported 1,378 new Covid-19 cases as of midnight on Friday, up from Thursday’s record of 1,316.

South Korea has so far fared better than many industrialised nations in infections and deaths, with a mortality rate of 1.22% and the number of severe cases at 148 as of Friday, which is much lower than the previous peak in late December.

However the rising trend has prompted a warning that new case numbers may nearly double by the end of July.

That has led to tougher curbs by the government including people being advised to stay home as much as possible and social gatherings restricted to two people after 6pm from four earlier in the day.

About 11% of South Korea’s 52 million people have completed vaccination, including receiving both shots for vaccines requiring two doses, while 30% have received one dose, KDCA said in a statement.

The country aims to reach herd immunity before November by inoculating 70% of the public with at least one shot by September.

South Korea’s total Covid-19 infections to date stand at 166,722 with 2,038 deaths.

The Delta variant is responsible for a growing wave of new cases in the region, which had previously managed the pandemic with some success, and the slow pace of vaccinations in countries including South Korea, Australia and Thailand is causing concern.

SOURCE: Reuters

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