• S. Korea Sees Significant Rise In Critical COVID-19 Cases, Deaths
People stand in a long COVID-19 testing line in front of Seoul's City Hall. (Photo: Yonhap)

South Korea reported a one day rise of 3,938 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, a day after exceeding 4,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

But critical cases and deaths climbed to fresh highs, fueling worries ahead of another pandemic winter.

Another 39 lives were also lost to the virus.

The latest resurgence, driven by the spread of the Delta variant, has been hitting the capital area particularly hard.

Seoul saw its infection cases surging to a new high of 1,760, followed by 1,102 in the surrounding Gyeonggi Province, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said, "The capital area has nearly reached a point where hospitals can no longer take COVID-19 patients."

He stressed the need to expand at-home care to take pressure off the medical system and ensure health care workers focus on patients in serious condition.

The number of critically ill patients nationwide rose to 612, also a new record.

Daily infections have soared since the government began easing virus restrictions this month for a gradual return to pre-pandemic life.

South Korea planned to move to the second stage of its living with COVID plan in mid-December, but health authorities have warned it may not be able to do so if the current trend continues.

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