South Korea sees record 40 Covid deaths in a day

SEOUL: South Korea yesterday reported 40 coronavirus deaths, a record daily toll, bringing the total death tally to 859, as the country grapples with a third wave of infection centred around nursing homes and a prison in the capital Seoul.

As of midnight Monday, there were 1,046 cases, bringing the total to 58,725, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said.

Of the new cases, 1,030 were locally transmitted and more than half were in Seoul.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun expressed regret over a mass cluster infection in a Seoul prison, with a total of 757 infections, and called for all-out prevention measures.

The authorities had ramped up testing to track down potential cases of unknown origin and those that display no symptoms, especially in the Seoul metropolitan area.

More than 500,000 tests were conducted in the greater Seoul area over the past two weeks, where over 1,400 patients were identified, said Mr Chung.

"We made progress in finding the silent spreaders and prevent the transmission," he told a meeting.

South Korea yesterday said it will sign a deal with Moderna to offer vaccines for 20 million people, Yonhap news agency reported citing the presidential office.

This comes a day after officials vowed to speed up efforts to launch a vaccination programme as the country detected its first cases of the virus variant linked to the rapid rise in infections in Britain. - REUTERS