SEOUL, July 6 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea confirmed over 1,000 new coronavirus cases Tuesday for the first time in six months amid a resurgence in the Seoul metropolitan area, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
The country reported 1,145 more COVID-19 cases from 12 a.m. to 9 p.m. That number is expected to further rise when the daily total is announced Wednesday morning.
The figure shot up to over 1,000 for the first time since Jan. 3 when the nation was undergoing a third wave of the pandemic, raising concerns over the fourth wave hitting in the summer.
The number of new cases compiled in over the past 21-hour period was already the second highest following the record high of 1,240 set on Dec. 25.
On Tuesday morning, the KDCA announced 746 additional cases for the past 24-hour period.
It reported 711 cases on Monday, 743 on Sunday, 794 on Saturday and 826 on Friday, which marked a nearly six-month high due to the sharp spike in new cases in the Seoul metropolitan area.
Numbers tend to be lower on the weekend and early in the week because of fewer tests done on Saturday and Sunday, before they tick back up in the middle of the week.
By region, 975, or 85.2 percent of the total, were from the greater Seoul area, where half of the nation’s 51.3 million population live.
Seoul reported 568 as of 9 p.m., already surpassing its previous daily record of 552 on Dec. 24.
Gyeonggi Province and the western port city of Incheon had 350 and 57 more cases over the period, respectively.
New cases soared to levels unseen since winter due to mass infections in various settings, including schools, private institutions, restaurants and workplaces, as people have increased activities amid the vaccination drive, authorities said.
Several private English institutes in the Seoul metropolitan area have become the virus hotbed after students got infected from foreign teachers, who dined together in a restaurant in western Seoul last month, with related cases amounting to 314 so far, health authorities said.
Health authorities expressed concerns over the rising ratio of patients in their 20s and 30s as the vaccination program currently gives priority to the elderly population, medical workers and essential workforces.
A total of 15.4 million people, or 30 percent of the country’s population, have received their first shots of COVID-19 vaccines. The KDCA said 5.32 million people have been fully vaccinated, accounting for 10.5 percent of the population.
Authorities are tightening their guard to prevent infections from spreading further amid concerns about a spike in cases of the more contagious Delta COVID-19 variant, first identified in India.
A total of 2,817 people have been infected with COVID-19 variants so far, and 325 such cases have been confirmed over the past week.
The greater Seoul area appeared to become a breeding ground for COVID-19 variants with about half of locally transmitted variant cases being reported from the region, according to the KDCA.
In response to the recent virus resurgence, the government has delayed the adoption of eased distancing measures by one week till Wednesday, and authorities said they will closely monitor the latest situation before deciding Wednesday whether to implement the relaxed virus curbs in the wider Seoul area.
Under the new rules, the ban on private gatherings of five or more people and the 10 p.m. curfew on restaurants had been expected to be lifted.