South Korea recorded over 17,500 new COVID-19 cases, the highest single-day infection since the beginning of the pandemic, the Korean Agency for Disease Control and Prevention (KDCA) said on Saturday.
Triggered by a rapid spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant, the rise began with 8,570 new cases in the country on Jan. 25. The latest surge was the highest recorded for five consecutive days, the country’s Yonhap News Agency reported.
According to the KDCA, 17,542 new COVID-19 cases have been detected in the country in the last 24 hours, while the total number of cases has increased to 811,122.
The country registered 16,085 new virus-related cases on Jan. 28, 14,514 on Jan. 27 while 13,012 people were infected with the deadly virus on Jan. 26.
South Korean death toll increased by 34 in the last 24 hours to 6,712.
Officials predicted that the number of cases could increase to 100,000 per day within a few weeks.
Meanwhile, the country has introduced a revised virus response system to combat the omicron variant.
Accordingly, rapid antigen and PCR tests will take place at about 250 test stations established in public health centers and large hospitals, and people will be able to choose which one they want to take.
People in high-risk groups, such as those over the age of 60, will be given priority for PCR tests.
Local hospitals and clinics will also implement individual test kits.
The revised system is designed to prevent the health sector from slowing down or collapsing while minimizing critical cases and deaths, the KDCA said.
Since December 2019, the pandemic has claimed over 5.65 million lives in at least 192 countries and regions, with more than 370.32 million cases reported worldwide, according to the US’ Johns Hopkins University.
* Writing by Merve Berker
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