ANKARA

Amid increasing coronavirus cases that has raised alarm bells in South Korea, health authorities have warned of increasing mutating strain of the COVID-19.

According to Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), South Korea has found more of the mutated strain of COVID-19 that “swept North America, Europe and the Middle East”, Yonhap news agency reported. However, officials added there is no evidence to suggest that the “mutation is more infectious”.

According to the World Health Organization tagging, South Korea has detected GH strain of the virus. This strain is most common in North America, Europe and the Middle East.

South Korean health authorities first found this strain in April. Officials at the disease control center added that the mutated strain accounted for 77.4% of 685 patients who were examined.

South Korea is witnessing a new rise in virus cases which has mounted pressure on the government of President Moon Jae-in to impose strict restrictions to stem the spread of the infection.

“It has been roughly a week since we implemented the second level of the social distancing scheme. Nothing has been decided yet on when the third level of the policy will be introduced,” said Jeong Eun-kyeong, director at the KCDC.

The authorities are increasing bed capacity in hospitals for the coronavirus patients. At least 320 cases were reported on Wednesday as cases linked to churches rose. The country has reported a total of 18,265 cases so far.

The capital Seoul and neighboring Gyeonggi province account for most of the new cases. Of total cases, patients aged 60 and above account for more than 40% of cases.

“But if we fail to curb the spread of the virus this week and adopt the third-level scheme, there will be significant consequences. It will not just be a matter of new patients. There will be a major impact on society and the economy,” the Eun-kyeong added.

The country’s death toll climbed to 312 after two more patients lost their life to COVID-19. South Korea’s fatality rate came to 1.71%. It has conducted 1,849,506 coronavirus tests since Jan. 3.

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