South Korea weighs more virus restrictions as daily infections increase

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea reported 700 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, its highest daily count since early January, and the prime minister reiterated warnings that new rules of social detachment were likely to be necessary.

The new figure compares to an average of 477 cases a day last week, according to data from the Korean Disease Control and Prevention Agency, and will fuel fears that the country may be facing a fourth wave of infections.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said at a government meeting that a new wave could disrupt South Korea’s vaccination program, which has been delayed as the international vaccine sharing scheme COVAX struggles to deliver the promised doses in time. .

South Korea said on Wednesday it would suspend the supply of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to people under 60 years of age, while the vaccine is undergoing testing in Europe.

Authorities will decide whether to resume vaccination with AstraZeneca vaccines for people under 60 this weekend, Kim Ki-nam, head of a vaccination task force, said at a briefing.

South Korea approved an injection from Johnson & Johnson in an attempt to speed up the launch of the inoculation.

Officials said a new round of restrictions should be announced by Friday. South Korea currently limits private meetings for more than four people.

South Korea has so far reported 107,598 infections in total, with 1,758 deaths.

More than one million South Koreans received their first injection of a coronavirus vaccine since February.

Reporting by Sangmi Cha; Editing by Edwina Gibbs, Robert Birsel