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New infections above 2,000 for 4th day amid woes over serious cases

A health care worker is pictured at a testing center in Songpa-gu, eastern Seoul on Saturday. (Yonhap)
A health care worker is pictured at a testing center in Songpa-gu, eastern Seoul on Saturday. (Yonhap)
   

South Korea's new coronavirus cases stayed above 2,000 for the fourth consecutive day Saturday amid concerns over a growing number of serious cases following eased virus curbs.

   The country reported 2,325 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total caseload to 393,042, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

   The daily caseload has stayed in the quadruple digits since July 7, including the record high of 3,272 cases on Sept. 25.

   Of the total, 2,311 were local infections. Fourteen cases came from overseas, bringing the total of such cases to 15,352, the KDCA said.

   The country added 32 more deaths from COVID-19, raising the death toll to 3,083. The fatality rate stood at 0.78 percent. 

   The number of patients in critical condition hit a record high of 485 after jumping to over 400 last Saturday for the first time since end-August, the health agency said.

   Moreover, about half of new COVID-19 cases in the country over the past two weeks were breakthrough infections. Breakthrough infections mean positive cases among fully vaccinated people.

   There have been growing concerns over a further uptick in the daily caseload and serious cases, as the country began easing virus curbs this month in the first of the three-phase "living with COVID-19" scheme for a gradual return to normalcy.

   Under the first phase, people are allowed to gather in groups of up to 10, regardless of vaccinations. Operation hour curfews for businesses that cover restaurants, cafes and movie theaters are fully lifted, except for adult entertainment facilities, such as clubs and bars.

   But health authorities said the country is not likely to move to the second phase of the "living with COVID-19" scheme if the current trend continues.

   As of Saturday, 41.83 million people, or 81.6 percent of the country's 52 million population, had received their first COVID-19 vaccine shots since February, when the country began its inoculation campaign. The number of fully vaccinated people reached 39.99 million, or 77.9 percent, according to the agency.

   The KDCA expected full vaccination rates to reach 80 percent around mid-December. (Yonhap)

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