On Thursday, officials in South Korea set a new record for COVID-19 deaths, warning that the highly transmissible omicron variety might soon become the prevalent strain.

South Korea has been dealing with an increase in infections and deaths in recent weeks, following a considerable relaxation of restrictions in early November as part of efforts to return to pre-pandemic normalcy.

According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, 109 individuals died in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of pandemic deaths in the country to 5,015. The number of patients in serious or critical conditions also reached a new high of 1,083, according to the report.
According to the CDC, 6,919 more persons have tested positive for the coronavirus, increasing the total number of cases to 589,978. Authorities have confirmed 12 more instances of the omicron variant, bringing the overall number of cases to 246.

Currently, the delta variation is responsible for the vast majority of newly reported cases in South Korea, but this may change soon.
Lee Sang-won, a senior health official, predicted earlier this week that the omicron type could become the dominant strain in South Korea within a month or two. “A meaningful (amount) of illnesses caused by omicron could develop in our country around February or March,” said Jaehun Jung, a professor at Gachon University College of Medicine in South Korea.

Concerned about rising rates of new infections and deaths, South Korea reinstated its strictest distancing measures on Saturday, including a four-person limit on private meetings and a 9 p.m. curfew on restaurants and cafés.

The influx threatened to overload hospitals, putting the country’s health-care system under duress.

South Korea is at a “critical juncture,” according to Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol, as the risk of its medical system nearing its limits looms. He claims that breakthrough infections and transmissions among unvaccinated persons are to blame for an increase in critically ill patients, which he claims is significantly higher than the government anticipated when it lifted distance restrictions in early November.

Between Nov. 28 and Dec. 18, 36 people died at home or in facilities while waiting for beds, according to government data. According to other data, nearly 80% of beds in COVID-19 intensive care units in South Korea were occupied as of Wednesday.
According to Kwon, the government intends to obtain tens of thousands of extra beds and build a capacity to handle 10,000 new cases.

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