South Korea on Friday reported over 27,000 new COVID-19 cases, the highest number of single-day infections in the last two years, according to the Health Ministry.

The country registered 27,443 cases in the past 24 hours, breaking the previous record of 22,907 cases reported on Thursday, as the omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads across the country.

The South Korea total caseload has risen to 934,656, with 6,836 deaths, after 24 more people lost their lives in the last 24 hours, official data showed.

In hospitals, 257 people are in critical condition.

The number of new infections has been increasing since last month, but the number of cases has increased significantly since Tuesday when the country recorded 18,341 cases, which increased to 20,269 on Wednesday and 22,907 on Thursday.

South Korean health authorities have already warned that the new infections could spread further because of the five-day Lunar New Year holidays, as people across the country hold family gatherings.

On Friday, the government decided to extend its social distancing restrictions for another two weeks, until Feb. 20, according to Yonhap News Agency.

Gatherings of more than six people are prohibited under the social distancing restrictions, and all businesses must close by 9 p.m. (1200GMT).

However, the health official said the government has no plans to impose further restrictions.

“Even if daily infections rise, we will attempt to gradually ease antivirus restrictions and return the country back to normal as long as we have sufficient medical capacity and the number of critically ill patients and deaths remain stable,” a senior health official, Lee Ki-il, was quoted as saying to reporters by the agency.

So far, South Korea has fully vaccinated 44.05 million people or 85.8% of its 52 million population.

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