• High Omicron Spread Fuels Record Infections In S. Korea
Long lines are seen at free COVID-19 testing sites across Seoul as Omicron infections surge. [Photo: Newsis]

The spread of the super contagious Omicron variant continues to push South Korea's daily COVID-19 caseload to new highs.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday it recorded 16,096 new cases from the previous 24 hours, representing a more than two-fold increase from last week.

Nearly 65 percent of cases were from the greater Seoul area and 35 percent were from non-capital regions, with 13 metropolitan cities and provinces hitting new records.

The latest pushed the cumulative number of confirmed cases to 793,582 since the start of the pandemic.

Virus-related deaths rose by 24 to 6,678.

The number of critical COVID patients in ICUs stood at 316, down 34 from the previous day.

Based on the figures, about 79 percent of those severely ill are over the age of 60.

But there are even patients in their 20s and teens, with the youngest receiving intensive treatment under the age of 9.

Health authorities warn that cases will continue to surge to as many as 100,000 a day in the coming weeks.

They are urging people to avoid travel, follow antivirus rules and get vaccinated to blunt the impact of the Omicron wave.

As of Friday, over 85 percent of the population had been fully vaccinated and over 51 percent had received booster shots, the KDCA said.

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