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(LEAD) Delta variant cases jump to nearly 17,000 in S. Korea

All News 15:29 August 31, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 6-10)

SEOUL, Aug. 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has confirmed 3,455 more cases of four major contagious variants of the new coronavirus over the past week, including 3,427 of the highly transmissible delta variant, health authorities said Tuesday.

The caseload of such infections reached 20,297 here, with the number of delta cases, first reported in India, tallied at 16,881, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

This photo, provided by SK Bioscience Co., shows a volunteer taking a shot of the South Korean vaccine developer's COVID-19 vaccine candidate, GBP510, in its phase three clinical trial at Dong-a University Hospital in Busan on Aug. 30, 2021. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The tally indicates that the delta variant is becoming the dominant strain of COVID-19 here, making it more difficult for health authorities to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

The delta variant is behind a recent spike in COVID-19 infections in Seoul and its neighboring areas, while showing signs of spreading much faster into the rest of the country.

The authorities said they found viral loads about 300 times higher in the delta variant than those in the original strain.

The country has reported four more cases of the highly transmissible delta plus variant of COVID-19, bringing the total caseload to seven.

It marks the third time that the country has reported the delta plus version, considered a sublineage of the delta variant.

The delta variant of the novel coronavirus was first detected in India last October. The "subvariant" strain is considered to be even more contagious, possibly capable of infecting people even after inoculation.

South Korea also confirmed its first case of another mutation in the delta variant, which is called the N501S mutation and first detected in Tokyo of Japan.

To prevent the lambda variant of the COVID-19 from spreading into South Korea, health authorities said they will require all arrivals from Peru and Chile to be quarantined for seven days starting Sept. 10.

The rate of variant cases detected through gene analysis came to 94.8 percent over the past week, up from 90.4 percent reported a week earlier, the KDCA said.

The corresponding figure for the delta variant was 94.3 percent, up from 89.6 percent a week earlier, according to the health authorities.

On Tuesday, the country added 1,327 more COVID-19 cases, including 1,333 local infections, raising the total caseload to 251,421, according to the KDCA. Daily cases have stayed above 1,000 for 56 consecutive days.

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