ANKARA

South Korea’s COVID-19 count spiked to another daily record on Wednesday, with authorities warning that numbers are likely to go even higher as the omicron variant sweeps the country. 

Official data showed 171,452 infections and 99 fatalities were recorded in South Korea over the past day, raising its overall tally to nearly 2.33 million, including 7,607 deaths.

The country has reported close to 800,000 cases and more than 400 fatalities since Feb. 10, the first day since the start of the pandemic that its daily count topped 50,000.

Authorities believe single-day figures could soar as high as 270,000 when the omicron wave peaks by early March, Yonhap News Agency reported.

However, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum sought to reassure the public that there is “no reason” to panic, citing omicron’s low fatality rate and South Korea’s “well-established” health system.

“Although omicron is heading to its peak, we plan to revise our social distancing and other measures once we judge that serious cases and deaths can be controlled stably,” he said at a COVID-19 response meeting.

His government eased some restrictions last week by extending business hours for cafes and restaurants by one hour, but retained others, including a limit of six people for private gatherings.

South Korea has fully vaccinated 44.32 million people, or 86.4% of its population of around 52 million.

Its drug safety agency on Wednesday authorized the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged between 5 and 11, as “the country has seen a growing number of infections among young people,” read the report.

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