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(LEAD) S. Korea's new COVID-19 cases above 35,000 for 3rd day as omicron's spread picks up

All News 10:25 February 07, 2022

(ATTN; RECASTS lead: UPDATES with more info throughout)

SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new COVID-19 infections stayed at more than 35,000 cases for three days in a row Monday despite fewer tests over the weekend, as the highly infectious omicron variant rages across the country following a major holiday.

The country reported 35,286 new COVID-19 infections, including 35,131 local cases, raising the total to 1,044,963, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

The accumulated virus caseload surpassed a grim milestone of 1 million the previous day, two years after South Korea reported its first COVID-19 case.
Daily infection tallies tend to slow on Mondays due to fewer tests on the weekend, but the fast spread of omicron appears to have broken the trend.

Health authorities said the number of new COVID-19 patients could possibly reach between 130,000 and 170,000 by the end of this month due to the fast spread of omicron.

People wait in line to get tested for the coronavirus in Songpa, eastern Seoul, on Feb. 7, 2022. (Yonhap)

People wait in line to get tested for the coronavirus in Songpa, eastern Seoul, on Feb. 7, 2022. (Yonhap)

The daily tally surged to over 30,000 for the first time on Saturday, just three days after breaking the 20,000 mark. The figure topped the 10,000 level for the first time on Jan. 26.

The death toll from COVID-19 came to 6,886, up 13 from Sunday. The fatality rate was 0.66 percent.

The number of critically ill COVID-19 patients was 270, down two from a day earlier, the KDCA said. The number has stayed in the 200s range for 10 days in a row.

The authorities said the omicron variant is twice more transmissible than the previous delta variant, but it has up to one-fifth chance of developing into severe cases.

The KDCA said intensive care unit beds for critically ill COVID-19 patients were 18.2 percent full nationwide, staying at a stable level.

At-home care patients rose 17,729 from the previous day to a total of 146,445 due to the fast spread of mild COVID-19 patients or those without symptoms, the KDCA said.

The authorities said at-home care treatment will now be more focused on patients aged 60 or older, with up to 650 institutions across the country that could monitor up to 210,000 people.

Of the locally transmitted cases, Gyeonggi Province that surrounds Seoul reported 9,780, followed by Seoul with 6,873 and the western port city of Incheon with 2,366, the KDCA said. Daily new cases from overseas went down 34 from a day earlier.



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