ANKARA 

South Korea on Wednesday reported the highest single-day coronavirus cases since January as health authorities mull over strict preventive measures, latest data showed.

According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, 1,078 new cases were recorded during the past 24 hours, bringing the total caseload to 45,442. With 12 more fatalities, the death toll rose to 612. On Tuesday, the country reported 13 deaths, the highest daily number since virus outbreak in South Korea.

Health authorities warned of introducing strict restrictions as cases soared despite the country adopting the second highest, Level 2.5, measures last week.

“Adopting Level 3 will take not only the number of new patients into consideration but also medical capabilities, as well as the reproduction rate of the virus,” Yonhap News Agency quoted Yoon Tae-ho, a senior health official, as saying.

“We urge people to comply with Level 2.5 currently implemented in the greater Seoul area to avoid the toughest virus restrictions, which can hurt numerous self-employed people and small shop owners,” he added.

Under the highest Level 3 measures, any gathering of 10 or more people will be banned, which is stricter than the current ceiling of 49.

Schools will be fully shut down, and companies are required to have nonessential employees work from home.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun also directed the Ministry of Economy and Finance to review support measures in advance, tailored to the current situation, as the government prepares to offer the third batch of pandemic relief money.

“We can’t rule out a decision to raise to Level 3, while the government is making all-out efforts to curb the COVID-19 spread,” the agency quoted the prime minister as saying, while addressing a meeting.

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