Officials in South Korea Wednesday reported 3,187 new COVID-19 cases, only the second time the daily rate has topped 3,000, less than three weeks after easing social distancing measures nationwide.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency also reported a record 522 people hospitalized with moderate to severe cases, breaking the record set just one day before.
The country’s death toll is now 3,158, after 21 deaths were reported on Wednesday, the 16th consecutive day of double-digit fatalities, including a record 32 on Saturday.
The latest surge comes just 17 days after the government began rolling back restrictions, allowing larger social gatherings and expanding indoor dining. The nation has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, with just under 80% of the population fully vaccinated.
The Yonhap News Agency also reports the country is facing a shortage of hospital beds and health workers.
In an effort to address this latest surge, Dr. Choi Eun-hwa, head of the Korea Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, announced on Wednesday a plan to speed up the process of administering booster shots for people who were fully vaccinated more than six months ago.
She told reporters they will shorten the waiting period for boosters from six months to five for people over 50 and front-line workers such as police and firefighters, and to four months for people over 60 and those with underlying health conditions.