SEOUL, Aug. 12 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s new COVID-19 cases fell for the second straight day Friday, but the number of seriously ill patients hit an over three-month high amid the fast spread of a highly contagious omicron subvariant.
The country added 128,714 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total caseload to 21,111,840, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said. Of the new cases, 464 were from overseas.
The tally marked a fall from 137,241 the previous day, but it was higher than 112,858 a week earlier.
The number of seriously ill patients also increased to 453, up 35 from the previous day and the highest since May 24.
The country reported 58 new deaths from COVID-19, down one from Thursday, raising the death toll to 25,499. The fatality rate was 0.12 percent.
As of 9 p.m. Friday, the country had reported 119,072 additional cases, down 5,785 from the same time the previous day, according to health authorities and provincial governments.
Daily virus cases are counted until midnight and announced the following morning.
South Korea’s daily COVID-19 cases have trended downward after peaking at around 620,000 in mid-March.
But since authorities lifted almost all anti-pandemic curbs in April, infections have shown signs of spiking again, apparently due to increased movement and public gatherings.
Health authorities said virus cases may peak at around 200,000 this month but remained wary of a further uptick in infections due to the impact of the summer vacation season.
Imported cases have continued to rise after South Korea relaxed entry restrictions for overseas travelers and resumed international flights. Daily imported cases hit a record high of 615 on Wednesday and have stayed over 400 cases this month.
Of the locally transmitted cases, Seoul identified 22,835 cases, with the surrounding Gyeonggi Province reporting 32,748 cases.
There were 7,010 infections in Incheon, 27 kilometers west of Seoul. The three areas accounted for 48.6 percent of the total infection cases.
As of Friday, 44.66 million, or 87 percent of the country’s population, had received full two-dose vaccinations, and 33.51 million, or 65.3 percent, had received their first booster shots.
About 6.46 million people, or 12.6 percent of the population, had gotten their second booster shots, the KDCA said.