Anchor: Daily COVID-19 cases continue to rise, hitting the 700s for the first time in three months this week. The surge has escalated concern of a fourth wave in the pandemic as the government is set to announce whether it will extend or raise current social distancing levels on Friday.
Emma Kalka has this report.
Report: New COVID-19 cases in South Korea spiked to the 700s for the first time in three months on Wednesday, raising concerns over a possible fourth wave of the epidemic.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency(KDCA) said as of 12:00 a.m. Thursday, 700 additional people tested positive for the virus, bringing the country's cumulative caseload to 107-thousand-598.
The death toll rose to one-thousand-758 after two more people died, with the fatality rate currently at one-point-63 percent..
Daily new cases, which hovered in the 300s to 400s for over a month, rapidly surged in the past week as spring travel has increased and people loosened vigilance.
The latest tally is the highest since 869 new cases were reported on January 7, soon after the third wave began to slow down after hitting its peak.
Out of the 700 new cases, 674 were local infections, with 485 of those, or 72 percent, in the Seoul metropolitan area.
With the sudden rise in cases, the government will announce whether it plans to maintain or raise current social distancing as the average number of local infections for the past week, a key barometer for distancing, stood at 543-point-three a day. This falls above the threshold for Level Two-point-Five.
The spike in cases comes as Seoul is also facing a hurdle in its vaccination program. Thursday morning, authorities temporarily suspended the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after it was linked to rare blood clots in the brain.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun ordered a full review of the latest findings on the vaccine by the European Medicines Agency on its safety by the KDCA before the suspension is lifted.
Emma Kalka, KBS World Radio News.