South Korea reported Wednesday that its daily COVID-19 case count surpassed 7,000 for the first time, with a gradual rise in the number of Omicron variant infections.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said 7,175 coronavirus cases were newly detected on Tuesday, marking a jump from 4,954 on Monday. The previous daily record was 5,352 set on Friday last week.

People wearing face masks walk in Seoul on Dec. 7, 2021, amid concern over the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The total number of recorded infections with the Omicron variant stood at 38 on Tuesday, up two from Monday.

The number of critically ill patients also reached another record high of 840, accelerating concerns over the country's already overwhelmed health care system.

South Korea's Prime Minister Kim Boo Kyum told reporters Wednesday that about 80 percent of the COVID-19 cases are in Seoul and surrounding areas, maintaining the government has been securing hospital beds in cooperation with medical authorities.

"But it is still difficult to catch up with the pace of increase in daily virus cases," Kim said, adding that the government, therefore, plans to strengthen support for treatment at home.

Over 80 percent of South Koreans have been fully vaccinated, according to the agency's report on Wednesday.

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