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South Korea's latest virus surge spreads outside capital

South Korea's latest virus surge spreads outside capital

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea reported a new high in daily coronavirus cases Wednesday, as a surge spreading beyond the capital puts pressure on authorities to extend their toughest distancing rules.

New cases have exceeded 1,000 a day for two weeks amid a slow vaccination campaign, lax public vigilance and the spread of more contagious delta variant. A majority of the recent cases have been among people in the Seoul metropolitan area, but the virus is increasingly spreading beyond the capital region.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said more than 30% of daily cases were outside the capital region for a fourth consecutive day.

He said the next several weeks would be the most important period of the ongoing outbreak because many people are expected to travel across the country for summer vacations.

The 1,784 virus cases detected in the past 24-hour period was the country's biggest single-day jump since the pandemic began. The new cases brought the country’s total to 182,265 with 2,060 deaths, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

Earlier last week, the government enforced its highest-level distancing rules in the Seoul area for two weeks by banning gatherings of three or more people after 6 p.m. and shutting down high-risk facilities such as nightclubs. Authorities on Monday launched a similar a four-person cap on private gatherings in areas outside the capital region.

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