South Korea sets highest daily coronavirus toll, struggles to contain latest surge

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said on Friday that 1,241 new coronavirus cases had been reported the day before, the highest daily number recorded with a major outbreak in a Seoul prison.
South Korea had early success in quickly controlling outbreaks with aggressive testing and contact tracing, but struggled to contain the recent surge in cases.
Tighter restrictions were put in place this week to curb new cases, including a ban on gathering more than five people. Ski resorts and tourist attractions have been closed to stop the spread during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
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"The daily record of confirmed cases was renewed at 1,241 cases yesterday," Chung said at a coronavirus response meeting, adding that despite the vast majority of the public heeding the government warning, many are still violating social distancing rules.
The new cases reported include an outbreak in Seoul, Chung said, but he did not provide the number of cases there.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency later said the national number of confirmed cases had risen to 54,770 and there had been 17 additional deaths, bringing the total to 773.
Testing has been stepped up to follow up cases of unknown origin and infected individuals who do not experience symptoms. Chung said the daily tests in Seoul and the surrounding regions exceeded 110,000.
(Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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