S.Korea's daily COVID-19 rate hits record high

South Korea's daily tally of coronavirus infections has topped 4,000 for the first time. The prime minister suggested that emergency anti-coronavirus restrictions may be re-imposed.

The South Korean government confirmed 4,115 new cases on Tuesday. The figure was more than 800 higher than its previous daily record on November 17.

The number of critically ill patients also hit an all-time high of 586.

The occupancy rate of hospital intensive care units surpassed 80 percent in the capital Seoul and surrounding areas, where infections are concentrated.

The government described the risk level in the greater Seoul area as "very high," topping a five-tier scale.

South Koreans started to resume daily activities at the beginning of this month, when the government eased anti-coronavirus restrictions. The vaccination rate stands at 79.1 percent.

Experts partly attribute the spike in infections to a growing number of cases among elderly people who were inoculated at an early stage as well as unvaccinated children.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said on Wednesday that in areas around the capital, the situation was critical enough to consider immediately implementing an emergency plan.