People line up to be tested for COVID-19 at a screening center in Seoul's western ward of Mapo on Friday. (Yonhap)
South Korea's new COVID-19 cases remained over 100,000 for the fifth straight day Saturday as the country battles a new wave of infections fueled by a highly infectious omicron subvariant.
The country added 110,666 new COVID-19 infections, including 573 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 20,383,621, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
Saturday's figure is slightly down from 112,901 Friday but jumped 1.35 times from a week earlier. Daily infection cases have been on the rise in recent weeks amid the spread of the highly contagious omicron subvariant BA.5.
The number of deaths caused by COVID-19 was 45, raising the death toll to 25,236. The fatality rate was 0.12 percent, the KDCA said. The number of seriously ill patients stood at 313, down seven from the previous day.
On Thursday, health authorities predicted the current wave of infections could peak at around 150,000 sometime this month. There had been concerns that daily cases could spike to over 250,000, but the figure has recently grown at a relatively slower pace.
Authorities remain wary of the current wave becoming drawn out and have said they could introduce some social distancing measures in vulnerable facilities if the situation worsens.
Of the 110,093 locally transmitted cases announced Saturday, Seoul reported 20,142 cases, with the surrounding Gyeonggi Province logging 29,017 cases and the western port city of Incheon with 5,487 infections. The three areas accounted for 49.6 percent of all local infection cases.
South Korea, with a population of 51.6 million, reached the grim milestone of 20 million coronavirus infections Wednesday, 2 1/2 years after its first COVID-19 case was reported Jan. 20, 2020. (Yonhap)