South Korea sets new COVID-19 record, suspends quarantine exemptions to block Omicron – .

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South Korea sets new COVID-19 record, suspends quarantine exemptions to block Omicron – .


SEOUL, Dec. 2 (Reuters) – The daily toll of coronavirus cases in South Korea hit a new high on Thursday, as authorities suspended quarantine exemptions for fully vaccinated inbound travelers for two weeks in a bid to push back the Omicron variant.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 5,266 cases as of Wednesday, a day after the daily tally topped 5,000 for the first time amid concerns over a surge in the number of patients with severe symptoms.

South Korea will require a 10-day quarantine for all inbound travelers for two weeks from Friday, ending exemptions earlier granted to fully vaccinated people, the KDCA said.

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The measure came after South Korea confirmed its first five cases of the Omicron variant on Wednesday evening, including a fully vaccinated couple who arrived from Nigeria last week, followed by two family members and a friend.

The government is restricting arrivals from eight countries, including South Africa, where the variant was first identified. It will now add Nigeria to the list, effective Friday, while suspending direct flights from Ethiopia from Saturday, the KDCA said.

“We are on a bumpy road towards a gradual return to normality, and the risks associated with the new Omicron variant are increasing,” President Moon Jae-in said in a meeting with Christian groups on Thursday.

The country has fully vaccinated nearly 92% of adults and is now focusing on childhood immunizations and a booster program, but experts have warned that cases could continue to rise in part due to the spread of the potentially larger variant. transmissible.

The number of cases has risen since distancing restrictions were relaxed last month, and the government this week suspended further easing plans amid mounting strains on its healthcare system from soaring rates. hospitalization and mortality as well as Omicron’s concerns.

KDCA data showed the number of severe cases has reached a record 733, and 90% of intensive care unit beds in the Greater Seoul Area are occupied, with 915 patients awaiting admission.

The total number of infections rose to 457,612, with 3,705 deaths.

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Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Richard Pullin

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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