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South Korea reports biggest daily COVID-19 death toll so far

South Korea reports biggest daily COVID-19 death toll so far

People wearing face masks walk near a banner displaying precautions against the coronavirus in downtown Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Dec. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

SEOUL: South Korea on Tuesday (Dec 29) reported that 40 more deaths linked to COVID-19, the highest daily number since the pandemic began.

Officials also reported 1,046 new confirmed coronavirus infections, taking the total caseload to 58,725, with 859 deaths.

South Korea's previous daily high for COVID-19 deaths was 24, reported on both Dec 21 and Dec 22.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun expressed regret over a mass cluster infection in a Seoul prison, with a total 757 infections, and called for all-out prevention measures.

Authorities had ramped up testing to track down potential cases of unknown origin and those that display no symptoms, especially in the Seoul metropolitan area.

More than 500,000 tests were conducted in the temporary testing centres in the greater Seoul area over the past two weeks, where over 1,400 patients were identified, said Chung.

"We made progress in finding the silent spreaders and prevent the transmission," Chung told a meeting.

Some observers said surging fatalities reflect an increase in cluster infections at nursing homes and long-term care centres where elderly people with underlying health problems stay.

READ: South Korea to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine efforts as first UK variant detected

The South Korean government has added new restrictions this week such as banning gatherings of more than four people and suspending ski resorts and tourist sports, aimed at stopping the virus spread during Christmas and New Year holidays.

On Monday, the country vowed to speed up efforts to launch a COVID-19 vaccination programme as it discovered its first cases of the coronavirus variant linked to Britain.

The new variant, thought to be more transmissible than others currently circulating, was found in three people who had entered South Korea from London on Dec 22, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Monday.

The three individuals are members of a London-based family who arrived in the country on Dec.

READ: How South Korea's early COVID-19 success left it scrambling to contain a new wave

The new strain of the virus emerged earlier this month in Britain and has already reached several European countries, as well as Canada, Jordan and Japan.

Last week London said another new variant of the virus was found in the country in cases linked to South Africa, which is the first African nation to record 1 million coronavirus cases.

The new strain prompted more than 50 countries to impose travel restrictions on Britain.

South Korea was among them and has barred flights from Britain until Jan 7.

In addition, the country will make it mandatory for passengers travelling from Britain or South Africa to submit negative COVID-19 test results before departure, KDCA chief Jung Eun-kyeong said.

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Source: AGENCIES/aj

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