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New cases over 700 for 3rd day as delta variant shows signs of spreading

09:50 July 05, 2021

SEOUL, July 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's daily new virus cases stayed in the 700s for the third day in a row Monday, as health authorities warned against the spread of the more contagious delta coronavirus variant.

The country reported 711 more COVID-19 cases, including 644 local infections, raising the total caseload to 160,795, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

The latest figure is down from 826 on Friday, 794 on Saturday and 743 on Sunday, and a nearly six-month high due to the sharp spike in new cases in the Seoul metropolitan area.

The country added two more COVID-19 deaths, raising the death toll to 2,028.

A medical worker is in preparation for a COVID-19 test in Seoul on July 4, 2021. (Yonhap)

New cases spiked to close to levels unseen since January, when the nation was gripped by the third wave of the pandemic, with many cases from schools, private institutions, restaurants, indoor gyms and entertainment venues.

New cases in the greater Seoul area, home to half of the nation's 51 million population, have accounted for over 80 percent of the total over the past 10 weeks, and nearly half of them were in their 20s and 30s, the KDCA said.

Sohn Young-rae, a senior health ministry official, told TBS radio that the spread of the delta variant, which was first identified in India, is "rapidly increasing" in South Korea.

Currently, the delta variant accounts for about 7 percent of new COVID-19 infections, compared with less than 1 percent two months ago, Sohn said.

The government has delayed the adoption of eased distancing measures by one week till Wednesday amid the recent virus resurgence, and authorities said they will closely monitor the latest situation before deciding whether to implement the relaxed virus curbs in the wider Seoul area.

Under the new rules, the ban on private gatherings of five or more people and the 10 p.m. curfew on restaurants had been expected to be lifted.

A total of 15.35 million people, or 29.9 percent of the country's population, have received their first shots of COVID-19 vaccines. The KDCA said 5.32 million people have been fully vaccinated, taking up 10.4 percent of the population.

A medical worker at a COVID-19 testing station in Seoul stands in front of an air cooler amid scorching heat on July 2, 2021, when the country reported 826 new infections, including 61 from abroad, the highest in nearly six months. (Yonhap)

The country currently administers two-dose vaccines from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna, as well as Janssen's single-shot vaccine.

Of the newly confirmed domestic cases, 301 were from Seoul, 210 from the surrounding Gyeonggi Province and 16 from the western port city of Incheon.

There were 67 additional imported cases, with 60 of them from Asian nations, excluding China.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries was 150,044, up 430 from a day earlier.



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