South Korea has reported a record daily 5352 new COVID-19 infections and 70 deaths, while a nationwide total of nine cases of the Omicronvariant have been confirmed, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) says.
The government on Friday announced that people visiting restaurants, cinemas and other public spaces would have to show vaccine passes.
It is also reducing the limit on private gatherings to six people in the greater Seoul area, from 10 currently, and to eight from 12 for those residing outside of the capital, starting on Monday.
The hospitalisation rate was rising rapidly led by severe cases of COVID-19, with the number of serious and critical patients at 752 as of Friday, KDCA said on Saturday.
South Korea also confirmed three additional Omicron cases, bringing the total to nine after a fully-vaccinated couple tested positive for the variant after travelling from Nigeria last week.
To fend off the new variant, authorities on Friday announced a 10-day mandatory quarantine requirement for all inbound travellers for two weeks, halting exemptions given earlier to fully vaccinated people.
The country has been battling the worst wave of infections since July, when the daily cases stood below 2000 until the government switched to "living with COVID-19".
The cases hit the 5000s for the first time this week, putting a strain on the healthcare system.
South Korea, which has fully inoculated 91.7 per cent of its adult population, has so far reported a total of 467,907 infections, with 3809 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Australian Associated Press