South Korea has reported another new 1,455 cases of the coronavirus, its 11th straight day over 1,000, as officials push to tighten pandemic restrictions nationwide. The numbers reported by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Saturday brought the national caseload to 176,500, including 2,055 deaths.
The record-breaking surge has been mostly driven by transmissions in the greater Seoul region, home to half of the country’s population of more than 51 million. Officials here have enforced the country’s toughest social distancing restrictions, which prohibit private social gatherings of three or more people after 6 p.m., ban visitors at hospitals and nursing homes, and shut down nightclubs and churches.
Officials are also discussing whether to enforce four-person limits on gatherings after 6 p.m. in all areas outside the capital region to prevent the virus from spreading and could announce a decision as early as Sunday.
Fatalities and hospitalisations have slowed compared to the previous surge in the winter after officials concentrated limited vaccine supplies to high-risk groups, including elders and people in long-term care settings. Still, the number of COVID-19 patients in serious condition increased by 14 over the past 24 hours to 185.
Masks are back in Las Vegas, where a rising number of coronavirus cases has health officials advising everyone — vaccinated or not — to wear facial coverings in crowds and indoor places.
The recommendation Friday from the Southern Nevada Health District affects casinos, concerts, clubs and supermarkets is not a requirement. But it affects casinos, concerts and clubs where business has boomed since restrictions were lifted and the tourists- dependent state fully returned pandemic control measures to counties about seven weeks ago.
It follows a call this week by the top public health official in Los Angeles for Californians to reconsider traveling to Nevada until COVID-19 case numbers decrease.
Nevada health officials reported 938 new cases on Thursday – the biggest one-day coronavirus case jump since February. The number of new cases reported Friday in Nevada was 866.
Vaccination rates have stalled in recent weeks in Nevada, a state with libertarian leanings where health officials reported Friday that about 55% of residents 12 years and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. State wide, about 46.3% are fully vaccinated.
Nationally, 68% of adults have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
San Francisco Bay Area health officials recommended Friday that everyone again wear masks inside public buildings, offices or businesses regardless of whether they are vaccinated.
The counties of San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa, Sonoma and the city of Berkeley stopped short of requiring masks indoors but said wearing them will ensure all unvaccinated people are masked in those settings.
The region stopped requiring vaccinated people from wearing a mask indoors last month when California fully reopened its economy on June 15 and did away with capacity limits for indoor businesses and restaurants and social distancing.