New cases below 170,000 for 2nd day; COVID-19 deaths at all-time high

South Korea’s daily COVID-19 cases stayed below 170,000 for the second straight day Saturday, but the daily death count hit an all-time high amid the fast spread of the omicron variant.

The country reported 166,209 new COVID-19 infections, including

166,068 local cases, raising the total caseload to 2,831,283, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

The tally slightly rose from the 165,890 reported Friday. Daily infections exceeded the 100,000 mark for the first time last week and hit a record high of 171,442 on Wednesday.

The surge in virus cases raised the number of COVID-19 deaths and critically ill patients.

The country added 112 more COVID-19 deaths, the most ever. The death toll came to 7,895, and the fatality rate was 0.28 percent, according to the KDCA.

The number of seriously ill virus patients came to 643, down from the previous day’s 655.

The government said the current wave is expected to peak at some 250,000 daily cases in mid-March as the highly contagious omicron variant is raging across the nation.

Health authorities said they will focus on dealing with serious cases and preventing deaths in a bid to better deal with the omicron wave under the current medical system as the strain has milder severity than other variants.

Instead of rigorous contact tracing, the government opted for enhanced at-home treatment and more use of rapid antigen self-test kits.

As of the midnight, 31 million people, or 60.9 percent of the country’s 52 million population, had received booster shots. The number of fully vaccinated people came to 44.3 million, accounting for 86.4 percent, according to the KDCA. (Yonhap)

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