South Korea on Wednesday reported nearly 50,000 new COVID-19 cases, a new record driven by the highly contagious omicron variant of coronavirus.
During the past 24 hours, 49,567 new cases were confirmed, pushing the total caseload to over 1.13 million, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said. The previous daily high was 38,689 infections on Sunday.
As many as 21 more fatalities took the death toll to 6,943, while 1,469 more patients were admitted to hospitals.
The number of infected in critical condition was 285, up 17 from a day earlier.
"Given features of the omicron variant, the government changed the COVID-19 response strategy to focus more on taking care of serious cases and minimize deaths," Yonhap News Agency quoted Second Vice Health and Welfare Minister Ryu Geun-hyuk as saying.
So far, South Korea has vaccinated 44.16 million or 86% of its 52 million population. More than 28 million people have also received booster shots.
On Feb. 4, the country extended COVID-19 social distancing rules for two weeks, including a 9 p.m. curfew for restaurants, bars, and gyms. The extended curbs also include a six-person limit on private gatherings.