December 08, 2021 11:00
New coronavirus infections surged to 7,175 with 840 severe cases on Wednesday morning, more than tripling just over a month after Korea began a phased return to normal.
Some 5,602 cases were traced to the capital region, with 2,268 cases in Seoul alone.
Health officials had projected an inevitable increase in daily infections but have been taken aback by the speed of increase, especially of serious cases as vaccination has proved less effective than hoped.
Now most ICU beds set aside for severe cases are occupied, and health authorities admitted in the first week of December that the daily caseload has surpassed the capacity of the existing health facilities.
Adding to these woes is the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, which is thought to be more contagious than even the Delta strain but may be less severe.
Two more patients tested positive for the Omicron variant, raising the total to 38. The tally includes three international students of Kyunghee University, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and Seoul National University who went to a church in Incheon where a friend of Korea's first Omicron cases attended a service.
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