• New COVID-19 Cases In S. Korea Reach Record High
Medical staff donning full protective suits tend to patients in a COVID-19 ICU in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul. 
(Photo: Yonhap)

South Korea may have to tighten COVID-19 measures again as infections soar to an all-time high.

A total of 4,116 new coronavirus cases were reported Wednesday, marking the biggest daily spike since the country confirmed its first case in January last year.

Another 35 lives were taken by the virus in the last 24 hours, while the number of critically ill patients hit a fresh high of 586, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

Just weeks after easing social distancing rules under the "living with COVID-19" scheme, the government is considering imposing an emergency COVID-19 response plan to contain the latest surge and ensure the medical system remains stable.

Despite high vaccination rates, health authorities have emphasized that vaccines alone are not enough to combat COVID threats.

Over 82 percent of people in the country have received their first shots and 79 percent have been fully vaccinated.

South Korea planned to move to the second phase of its gradual return to normal life in mid-December, but health authorities have warned the country may not be able to do so if the current trend continues.

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