• S. Korea In Preparation Mode For Omicron Wave, Reports Over 6,000 New COVID-19 Cases
[Photo: Newsis]

South Korea has reported a jump in new coronavirus cases amid early signs of an Omicron surge.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Thursday 6,603 new COVID-19 cases had been recorded in the previous 24 hours.

Among them, 6,357 were locally acquired infections, nearly 64 percent of which were from the greater Seoul area.

The number of criticially ill COVID patients in ICUs decreased by 44 to 488, while virus-related fatalities rose by 28, according to the KDCA.

More than 19,000 people with COVID-19 were also said to be recovering at home.

Since the country detected its first confirmed case of COVID-19 exactly two years ago, it has recorded a total of 712,503 infections and 6,480 deaths.

The government said it is in "preparation mode" to tackle an imminent surge in new infections fueled by the highly contagious Omicron variant, and will go into "full response mode" when the daily caseload exceeds 7,000, which is expected in the coming days.

Tightened social distancing rules, including a six-person cap on private gatherings and a 9 p.m. business curfew on restaurants and cafes, will be enforced until February 6.

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