The nation of South Korea has reported a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases as it struggles to reign in the country’s fourth wave of infections as new coronavirus variants like the Delta Plus strain begin to take hold f the population. South Korean authorities confirmed the nation’s first two cases of the Delta Plus variant earlier this week.
According to reports, the total number of infections has gone up to 203,926, while the death toll reached 2,106. As a result of additional testing done after last weekend, the KDCA (Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency) reported more than 1,725 new cases on Tuesday, which is 500 more than it reported a day prior.
There has been no sign of subsiding from the ongoing fourth wave, which last week caused the daily tally to hit a new high of 1,895. In its report, the KDCA also stated that it detected the nation’s first two cases of the novel Delta Plus COVID-19 variant, which is a sub-lineage of the new Delta variant that was first discovered in India.
There was concern among health officials regarding the increase in travel last week, which was about 6.4 percent more than the week prior. The region outside of Seoul and its surrounding areas saw 34 percent more movement than early January, mainly due to summer vacations.
Senior health official Lee Gi-il stated at a briefing that public movements have grown in those regions for three straight weeks. In addition to fatigue related to long periods of separation, the start of the summer vacations has brought people out of their homes.
For two weeks leading up to the peak of summer vacation season, the government stepped up social distancing measures.
At present, only a few countries have reported cases of Delta Plus, including the India, United Kingdom and Portugal. The Delta Plus sub-lineage has supposedly obtained a mutation in tis spike protein called K417N. A similar mutation has been found in the Beta variant, which originated in South Africa.
Data from the Korea Vaccination Agency showed that only 39.3 percent of South Korea's 52 million citizens had received at least one vaccination, and just 14.2 percent had been fully vaccinated. According to healthcare officials, a number of major vaccines offer protection against the Delta strain.