South Korea maintains crowd limit as omicron causes 25-fold surge

SEUL – South Korea will extend lunchtime at the restaurant, but will maintain a limit of six people on private social gatherings as it fights a massive wave of coronavirus caused by a highly infectious variant of omicron.

The 109,831 new cases recorded on Friday set another record and increased about 25-fold from the level seen in mid-January, when omicron became the dominant strain in the country. More than 516,000 infections counted in the last seven days alone have increased the number of cases in South Korea to more than 1.75 million.

Until now, it seemed that Omicron could cause serious illness or death than the delta option, which hit the country hard in December and January. But cases are growing much faster and seem to be putting the country on the brink of possible hospital growth.

Prime Minister Kim Jong Un, the No. 2 official in Seoul under President Moon Jae-in, acknowledged people’s frustration with expanded anti-virus restrictions and shocks for service businesses, but said officials could not afford to significantly alleviate social distancing during hospitalization and death. begin to rise.


Officials have extended curfews in restaurants and other businesses from 9pm to 10pm, but private meetings of seven or more people will be banned until at least March 13th.

People will still need to show their vaccination status through smartphone apps or documents to enter potentially crowded places such as restaurants, cafes, gyms and karaoke venues.

“Experts expect the peak (Omicron outbreak) to reach sometime between late February and March,” Kim said during a meeting on anti-virus strategies. “Once we reach the point where we can confirm that the (outbreak) peaked and declined, we will begin to significantly mitigate social distancing measures, like other countries, so that people can return to their precious normal lives.”

The Ministry of Health said that currently about 30% of the intensive care units dedicated to the treatment of COVID-19 are occupied. The ministry said 385 patients with the virus are in critical or critical condition, which is 100 more than a week earlier but still lower than the level of about 1,000 observed in late December during the delta outbreak.


While omicron is easier to infect those who have been vaccinated or have had COVID-19 before, experts say vaccination and revaccination continue to provide strong protection against serious illness and death.

More than 86% of South Koreans have been fully vaccinated and 58% have been vaccinated. Health officials have begun offering fourth vaccinations in nursing homes and other long-term care sites.

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