SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea’s daily increase in coronavirus infections exceeded 3,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic as the country comes off its biggest holiday of the year.
The 3,273 new cases reported by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Saturday marked the 81st consecutive day of over 1,000 and were about 840 cases more than the previous one-day record of 2,434 set a day earlier.
More than 2,500 of the new cases were from capital Seoul and nearby metropolitan areas, where transmissions have accelerated despite officials enforcing the country’s toughest social distancing rules short of a lockdown since July, banning private social gatherings of three or more people after 6 p.m. unless participants are fully vaccinated.
Officials believe the virus spread further beyond the capital region during the Chuseok holidays, the Korean version of Thanksgiving which began on the weekend and continued through Wednesday, a period during which millions usually travel across the country to meet relatives. Officials say the country may see even bigger daily jumps next week as more people get tested.
Less than 45% of a population of more than 51 million were fully vaccinated as of Saturday morning.