• S. Korea's Daily New COVID-19 Cases Surpasses 14,000
Long lines form at a COVID-19 screening center near City Hall in central Seoul amid a spike in Omicron-fueled 
infections. [Photo: Newsis]

South Korea's daily count of new COVID-19 cases has hit another fresh high as the ultra-contagious Omicron variant spreads.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Thursday reported 14,518 cases from the last 24 hours.

It noted that children and teens, the lowest vaccination groups in the country, accounted for nearly 31 percent of those newly diagnosed with the disease.

People aged 60 and older represented around 8 percent.

Officials also confirmed 34 additional virus-related deaths.

Despite spiking infection rates, the number of critically ill patients in ICUs nationwide stood at 350, down 35 from the previous day, continuing a steady decline.

The government has implemented a new COVID response system that it hopes will minimize critical cases and deaths.

Rapid antigen self-tests are replacing PCR tests at public screening sites, except for those aged over 60 or in high-risk groups.

From February 3, local hospitals and clinics will also administer tests and treat patients to help prevent an overload of the medical system.

Quarantine authorities predict the current surge will lead to an increase in the number of severe coronavirus cases in two to three weeks.

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