SEOUL • South Korea yesterday reported its highest single-day number of new coronavirus cases in three months amid a rise in cluster infections, as it approved a Johnson & Johnson vaccine in a bid to expedite its inoculation campaign.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 668 new cases for Tuesday, the highest level since Jan 8, with clusters developing in kindergartens, saunas, bars and churches, mostly in the greater Seoul area.
The country's food and drug safety ministry also said it has granted final approval for the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after a panel of experts ruled the single-dose shot treatment was safe and effective.
Johnson & Johnson is the third Covid-19 vaccine maker to be authorised in South Korea, after the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines, both of which require two doses.
The authorities are seeking to speed up a national vaccination campaign despite global supply shortages while expanding preemptive testing and tracing efforts amid concerns over a potential fourth wave of infections.
To date, total infections stand at 106,898, with 1,756 deaths.
"If the fourth wave of infections becomes a reality, a disruption to vaccination would be inevitable, as well as dealing a big blow to our economy," Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a government meeting yesterday. "The government is maximising efforts to prevent the fourth wave by mobilising all means possible."