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[Breaking] Omicron-hit Korea sets record 13,000+ cases: PM

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum (Yonhap)


South Korea for the first time entered five digits in daily new COVID-19 cases for Wednesday, just days after omicron officially replaced delta as the dominant variant here.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum told a meeting of the government COVID-19 response headquarters that in the latest 24 hours 13,012 cases had been recorded -- marking a stark jump from the prior record of 8,571 cases set the previous day.

“Omicron spread is beginning,” the prime minister said. “From this point on, our COVID-19 response will first and foremost prioritize managing severe cases.”

He said that from Saturday at testing centers all across the country rapid antigen tests will become available. PCR testing will be limited to older adults ages 65 and up and people who have been in close contact with confirmed patients.

Over the Seollal holiday of Jan. 29-Feb. 2, more clinics will be set up for screening patients with suspected symptoms. Here people who are not a PCR testing priority will be given rapid tests.

“To overcome the omicron wave your compliance with safety rules is necessary, more so than any steps taken by the government,” he said, urging people to refrain from visiting family during the holiday. 

“If you must travel, get boosted beforehand and seek testing to see you are cleared. Try to avoid using public transit.”

By Kim Arin (arin@heraldcorp.com)
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