Coronavirus | South Korea sees sharp increase in COVID - 19 cases

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SEOUL, Aug 4 - South Korea posted a sharp increase in its coronavirus cases on Wednesday as it struggled to control its fourth wave of infections amid the spread of new virus variant strains.

For Tuesday the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported 1,725 cases, up from a day before, as more tests were conducted after the weekend.

Health authorities were concerned that people spent about 6.4% more last week compared with the week before, or about 34% more than in early January, in the regions beyond the capital Seoul and its neighbouring areas, mainly for summer vacations.

The movements in those regions have been increasing for three consecutive weeks, senior health official Lee Gi-il told a briefing. There is fatigue from long periods of distancing, and it's a summer vacation season.

The government tightened social distancing curbs in most of the country last week for two weeks ahead of peak summer holiday periods.

The KDCA said on Tuesday that it had detected India's first two cases of the new Delta Plus COVID -19 variant, a sub-lineage of the Delta variant earlier identified in South Korea.

Only a handful of countries, including Britain, Portugal and India, have reported Delta Plus cases so far. Delta Plus is still being studied, but scientists say it may be more transmissible than others.

Health authorities say several major vaccines work against the Delta variant.

South Korea will begin taking reservations for vaccines from about 2 million priority groups among people aged 18 to 49 on Wednesday, including those with disabilities, gyms and private education workers, delivery people, street cleaners and call centre employees.

Some 39.3% of the country's 52 million population have received at least one shot as of Wednesday, while 14.2% have been fully vaccinated, KDCA data showed.