April 06, 2022 12:29
Daily coronavirus infections have bounced back to nearly 300,000 as the highly contagious Omicron variant is being chased by the threat of the new XE variant from overseas.
New infections reached 286,294 on Wednesday morning after it jumped to 266,084 on Tuesday from 127,050 on Monday. The number of critically ill coronavirus patients peaked at 1,315 on March 31 but fell to 1,128 on Wednesday.
Lee Sang-won of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said, "Statistics suggest that we are more likely to see the present downtrend continue than witness a return to an uptrend of stealth variants."
But health officials maintained the risk level at "very high" since last week as the rate of critically ill patients was at 62.8 percent of capacity and 69 percent of hospital beds were occupied.
They are also concerned about the emergence of the XE variant, which is a combination of the Omicron strain and a stealth variant. No cases of XE have been detected in Korea so far, but Lee said it "could be more contagious than the stealth variant."
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