North Korea : Viral outbreak since the pandemic.

 On Friday, the number of new coronavirus infections in South Korea surpassed 7,000 for the third day in a row, as the greatest increase since the pandemic's inception overloaded hospitals and depleted the health-care personnel.

Critics have blamed the spread on the government's laxity, which substantially reduced social distancing restrictions at the beginning of November in what authorities described as the first step toward restoring pre-pandemic normalcy.

Even as the number of reported instances increased in recent weeks, officials were originally unwilling to tighten social separation, citing public tiredness and discontent with restrictions and their impact on livelihoods. However, when the infectious delta variant diminished vaccination efficacy and most individuals in their 60s and older are still waiting for booster shots, and the first instances of omicron were detected, a sense of urgency became obviousa.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum, the country's No. 2 after President Moon Jae-in, warned during a viral meeting that if the virus does not stop spreading quickly, the country may be compelled to take more "extreme" steps.

Officials issued administrative directives mandating hospitals throughout the country to assign 2,000 more COVID-19 treatment beds.

The extra capacity will be utilized to relieve the strain on hospitals in Seoul and the surrounding metropolitan area, where 90 percent of intensive care units are currently full. Because of bed constraints, more than 1,200 virus patients in the larger capital area were forced to wait at home as of Friday morning, according to officials.

New coronavirus infections in South Korea exceeded 7,000 for the third consecutive day on Friday. Critics blame the spread on complacency by the government which lowered social distancing rules at the start of November. South Korea has reported a daily average of more than 5,800 infections while adding more than 41,000 cases in the past seven days. Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said the country could be forced to take further "extraordinary" measures if it fails to slow spread of virus soon.

Currently, South Korea allows larger social gatherings, longer indoor dining hours at restaurants. Officials predict vaccination rates will help suppress hospitalizations and fatalities. Serious cases and deaths have soared among people in their 60s or older. South Korea has also tightened its borders to fend off the new omicron variant.

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