SEOUL (REUTERS) - South Korea reported a three-week high of 490 new coronavirus cases on Saturday (March 13), with infections creeping higher as the authorities prepare for a broad vaccine rollout.
The daily tally as of Friday midnight was up slightly from 488 the day before to the highest since Feb 19, said the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
Of Friday's total, 474 were locally transmitted infections and 16 imported.
This brings the country's total coronavirus infections to 95,176 with 1,667 Covid-19 deaths.
Nearly 70 per cent of the domestically transmitted cases have been from the capital, Seoul, and its neighbouring areas, where about half the nation's 52 million people live.
South Korea plans to begin vaccinating the general public, starting with people over age 65 and healthcare workers, next month, Yonhap news agency reported, citing a health official.
The government is to announce details of the vaccination plan early next week.
The country has administered 583,658 doses of Covid-19 vaccines as of Friday midnight, according to the KDCA, including both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech shots.
South Korea's health authorities said they will continue to closely monitor reports related to AstraZeneca's vaccine and quickly respond to cases of blood clots forming in people who have been given the vaccine as a result of these reports.
Authorities in several countries, including Denmark, Norway and Iceland, have already suspended the use of AstraZeneca's vaccine.
The government said on Friday it will extend current social distancing rules with a ban on private gathering of more than four people in a bid to stamp out the possibility of a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections in the country.