SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported another 880 new cases of the coronavirus as it slipped deeper into its worst wave of the pandemic yet.
That brought the country’s caseload to 44,364 on Tuesday, which was the 38th consecutive day of triple-digit daily increases. More than 10,000 infections have been reported in the last 15 days alone, mostly from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area where health workers are struggling to stem transmissions tied to various places, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, restaurants, churches and schools.
The death toll was at 600 after 13 COVID-19 patients died in the past 24 hours. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said 205 among 11,205 active patients were in serious or critical condition as fears grow over possible shortages in intensive-care units.
Critics say the country’s viral resurgence underscores the risk of encouraging economic activity when vaccines are at least months away. The government had lowered social distancing restrictions to the lowest tier in October out of concerns about sluggish growth rates despite experts warning of a viral surge during winter when people spend longer hours indoors.
The government restored some restrictions over the past weeks, such as shutting down nightclubs, halting in-person school classes and requiring restaurants to provide only deliveries and take-outs after 9 p.m.