South Korea's new coronavirus cases reached a 66-day high at over 41,000 on Saturday amid the spread of a highly contagious new omicron subvariant.
The country reported 41,310 new COVID-19 infections, including 287 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 18,721,415, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
Saturday's figure more than doubled from 20,286 new cases recorded a week earlier, as the country has seen a marked increase in infections from end-June due to the highly contagious omicron subvariant BA.5.
The daily count hit over 10,000 on June 29 for the first time in about three weeks and rose to over 20,000 last Saturday and then above 40,000 on Wednesday. The infection tally on Thursday and Friday stood at 39,196 and 38,882, respectively.
The KDCA reported 16 deaths from the virus Saturday, putting the death toll at 24,728. The fatality rate stood at 0.13 percent.
The number of critically ill patients was 70, up from the previous day's 65.
The KDCA has said the country has entered a new virus wave, ending a downward trend from the peak of more than 620,000 in mid-March, and that the daily infections could surge to over
200,000 next month.
The BA.5 subvariant accounted for 35 percent of the country's total COVID-19 cases last week, up from 28.2 percent a week earlier, according to the KDCA.
It is known to be more contagious and better able to escape immunity compared with earlier versions. (Yonhap)