(ATTN: UPDATES with more info in last 2 paras)
SEOUL, Aug. 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new COVID-19 cases surged to an 18-week high of about 180,000 on Wednesday amid a new resurgence of the virus, a government official said.
The number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients came to 469 with the daily death toll reaching 42, Kim Sung-ho, the head of the interior ministry's disaster management office, said during a government COVID-19 response meeting.
"An increase in travelers in the summer vacation season and the recent extended Liberation Day holiday is expected to have an impact (on infection tallies) this week," Kim said.
The Wednesday tally marks a more than twofold increase from Tuesday's 84,128 cases.
The official said the latest upsurge is manageable within the country's medical response capacity, with the hospital bed occupancy rate for seriously ill virus patients at 43.7 percent.
For a six-week period starting Saturday, the government will also have hospitals take turns hospitalizing critically ill COVID-19 patients on weekends so as to help high-risk patients, such as those with underlying diseases, rapidly get treatment on weekends or holidays.