March 18, 2022
SEOUL – South Korea’s daily COVID-19 infections surged to surpass 600,000 for the first time, the country’s health authorities reported Thursday.
According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, the country added 621,328 new COVID-19 infections during the 24 hours of Wednesday. The total caseload also jumped to 8,250,592.
South Korea has been the world‘s largest COVID-19 hot spot in recent days. According to statistics-tracking website Worldometer, the country’s daily COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, accounted for 23.3 percent of the world‘s total caseload. South Korea’s share in the global caseload for Wednesday is expected to go up given the sharp increase in one day.
The country’s daily infections on Wednesday was up by 55 percent, or 220,617, from the previous day’s 400,711.
The number of daily COVID-19 cases spiked as the country nears the peak of the omicron wave. The country’s health authorities previously anticipated that the peak of the omicron wave would arrive between March 16 and March 22.
The number of daily infections on Wednesday, however, was far more than what the country’s health authorities previously expected: between 316,000 and 372,000.
The 55 percent surge on Wednesday was seen after the government recently started to accept rapid antigen test results conducted by medical professionals at local hospitals or clinics as part of the official count.
The latest surge also came as the government decided to add around 40,000 daily infections to Wednesday’s daily tally that the government had omitted on the previous day due to a system failure.
Amid the unprecedented surge in daily COVID-19 cases, the number of COVID-19 related deaths also more than doubled from a day earlier.
During the 24 hours of Wednesday, the country added an all-time high of 429 deaths from COVID-19, up 265 from the previous day’s 164. The death toll reached 11,481, and the fatality rate stood at 0.14 percent.
The number of critically ill patients came to 1,159, down from 1,244 the previous day. But, the decrease was, in part, due to the increased number of deaths among critically ill patients.
The country’s health authorities expect the number of critically ill patients to continue to rise to over-1,800 by March 23.
Meanwhile, the South Korean government is considering easing the current social distancing rules, which include a 11 p.m. curfew on businesses and a 6-person cap on private gatherings.
The government is reportedly reviewing options to push back the curfew by an hour to midnight and increase the limit on private gatherings to eight.
The government will announce its decision during a COVID-19 response meeting on Friday.