(2nd LD) South Korea’s Viral Caseload Crosses The Dreadful 500,000 Mark, Owing To The Infection’s Continuous Expansion

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South Korea’s new coronavirus cases remained above 7,000 for the third consecutive day Friday, and the country’s caseload surpassed the dreadful 500,000 mark as the coronavirus spread unabated among the unvaccinated and elderly with waning immunity.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said in a statement 7,022 new COVID-19 infections in the country, raising the overall caseload to 503,606 persons (KDCA).

The amount was the pandemic’s 3rd largest daily total, following a record-high of 7,174 recorded Wednesday and 7,102 the day before.

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Seoul recorded 2,800 new infections, while the neighboring Gyeonggi Province reported 2,030 and Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, reported 465.

The number of severely sick COVID-19 patients reached 852, the second-highest figure after 857 recorded on Thursday, putting further burden on hospitals and intensive care units.

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As of 5 p.m. Thursday, the greater Seoul area’s intensive care unit beds were 85.4 percent filled, up 0.4 percentage point from the previous day.

There were a total of 1,258 people waiting to be admitted to hospitals. 285 of them had been on the waiting list for more than four days.

As of 12 a.m. Friday, 20,458 patients, including 9,866 Seoul residents, have received COVID-19 treatment at home.

According to officials, the dead toll has risen by 53 to 4,130. The mortality rate was 0.82 percent.

Earlier this week, the administration tightened health standards in order to prevent a quick winter rise in illnesses, putting a halt to its goal to gradually return the country to normalcy.

The authorities stated that the steps will begin to have an impact later this week, but health experts cautioned that additional strict measures are required to prevent the transmission of the infection and the omicron form.

The KDCA reported three more instances of the omicron variety, increasing the total to 63 cases (15 imported and 48 locally transmitted).

The majority of the cases were related to a church in Incheon where a pastor works, the country’s first known omicron infection case. When the pastor and his wife returned from a trip to Nigeria last month, it was proven that they were infected with the variation.

To improve vaccine efficacy, the government announced that the dosage gap between main immunization and booster injections will be reduced from 4-5 months to three months.

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