SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea has reported another new 1,455 cases of the coronavirus, its 11th straight day over 1,000, as officials push to tighten pandemic restrictions nationwide.
The numbers reported by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Saturday brought the national caseload to 176,500, including 2,055 deaths.
The record-breaking surge has been mostly driven by transmissions in the greater Seoul region, home to half of the country’s population of more than 51 million. Officials here have enforced the country’s toughest social distancing restrictions, which prohibit private social gatherings of three or more people after 6 p.m., ban visitors at hospitals and nursing homes, and shut down nightclubs and churches.
Officials are also discussing whether to enforce four-person limits on gatherings after 6 p.m. in all areas outside the capital region to prevent the virus from spreading and could announce a decision as early as Sunday.
Fatalities and hospitalizations have slowed compared to the previous surge in the winter after officials concentrated limited vaccine supplies to high-risk groups, including elders and people in long-term care settings. Still, the number of COVID-19 patients in serious condition increased by 14 over the past 24 hours to 185.