South Korea extends social distancing rules

South Korean President Moon Jae-in | AP

South Korea says it’ll extend the toughest social distancing rules for another two weeks to try to lower critical cases and guard against the omicron variant.

The government said Friday the current restrictions such as a four-person limit on private gatherings and a 9 pm curfew on restaurants and cafes will continue until Jan. 16.

Health Minister Kwon Deok-Cheol says South Korea’s daily caseload has recently dropped to the 5,000s from the previous 8,000s thanks to the current distancing guidelines enforced two weeks ago.

But he says the number of critically or seriously ill patients remains above 1,000. Kwon says the omicron variant also continues to spread throughout South Korea and that it’s difficult to prevent it from becoming the dominant strain in South Korea.

On Friday, South Korea added 4,875 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the national tally to 630,838. Health authorities said they’ve also confirmed 269 new cases of the omicron variant, taking the country’s total to 894.

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