South Korea reports 1,600 new COVID-19 cases, outbreak on military vessel


SEOUL, July 15 (Reuters) – South Korea reported 1,600 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday (Jul 15), a slight drop from the record number the previous day, as it battles to contain an outbreak onboard a military anti-piracy vessel operating overseas.

The country tightened social distancing rules across most of the country on Wednesday, when it reported a record number of 1,615 infections, to tackle its worst-ever outbreak of coronavirus.

Outbreaks had previously been largely centered in the capital Seoul and neighboring areas, but cases have spread to non-metropolitan areas, adding to worries about the highly contagious Delta variant and a slowing vaccine roll-out.

There has yet to be a significant increase in hospitalizations or deaths, with a mortality rate of 1.18 percent and the number of severe cases at 167 as of Wednesday, far below levels seen during the previous peak in late December.

Meanwhile, authorities scrambled to contain an outbreak in a South Korean military unit on anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden and nearby, where at least six service members have tested positive for coronavirus, Yonhap news agency reported citing the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The soldiers and crew who have developed symptoms have been isolated, while the unit will test about 300 unvaccinated servicemen on board.

So far, South Korea has recorded 173,511 cases and 2,050 deaths. Only 30.8 percent of its 52 million people have received at least one dose of a vaccine. Twelve percent have been fully vaccinated.