South Korea reports another record-high number of coronavirus cases

SEOUL-- South Korea's daily new virus cases hit another fresh high on Tuesday, health authorities said, as the country battles the fourth wave of the pandemic amid woes over rising delta variant cases and a slow vaccination process.

As of 9 p.m, the country reported 1,681 new cases, sharply up from 1,157 the same time the previous day, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

The daily total, to be counted until midnight and announced early Wednesday, may breach the 1,800 mark.

Previous record-high daily total was 1,614 announced last Wednesday, according to the authorities.

A total of 1,160 new cases were reported in the greater Seoul area as of 9 p.m, accounting for 69 percent of the total, with other parts of the country reporting 521 cases, the KDCA said.

The greater Seoul area, home to half of the country's 51.3 million population, has emerged as the virus hot spot due to continued infections in various settings, including schools, workplaces, restaurants, gyms, department stores and entertainment venues.

It is the first time since the onset of the fourth wave of the outbreak for regions outside the capital area to report over 500 cases for the 9 p.m. tally, the authorities said.

The country added 1,278 COVID-19 cases on Monday, including 1,242 local infections, raising the total caseload to 180,481, the KDCA said.

The daily caseload has remained above the 1,000 mark over the past two weeks.

Health authorities expressed concerns over the fast spread of the more transmissible delta variant, which poses a greater challenge to antivirus efforts.

Health authorities earlier warned that the daily virus cases may rise to the mid-2,000s in mid-August, before falling to as low as the 600s by the end of next month, should the fourth wave of the pandemic be brought under control.

As new cases in the greater Seoul area account for 80 percent of the daily caseload, the country implemented a semi-lockdown in the region that centers on banning gatherings of more than two people after 6 p.m.

Under the highest social distancing measures of Level 4, entertainment establishments, including nightclubs and bars, are ordered to shut down in the capital area, while restaurants are allowed to have dine-in customers only until 10 p.m.

Source: Yonhap News Agency