People wait in the rain to get tested for COVID-19 at a free screening center in Seoul. (Photo: Yonhap News)
South Korea reported 541 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and six more virus-related fatalities as health authorities voiced concern over the increasing number of variant cases in the country.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said 514 local infections and 27 imported cases were confirmed in the last 24 hours, raising the total caseload to 124,269.
The death toll jumped to 1,840.
Minister of the Interior and Safety Jeon Hae-cheol warned that cases of more infectious virus variants have been climbing, accounting for nearly 15 percent of confirmed cases over the last two weeks.
In order to reduce the risk of variants spreading further, he said cities and provinces must boost preemptive testing while strengthening monitoring and management to stamp out group infections.
The upward trend in new cases amid warmer weather has led health authorities to extend social distancing rules and a ban on private gatherings of five or more people until May 23.
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