The Latest: SKorea's daily virus increase tops 500 again

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A South Korean elderly woman in a wheelchair arrives to receive the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, April 1, 2021. South Korea started its coronavirus vaccination for senior citizens over 75 years old. (Chung Sung-Jun/Pool Photo via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea’s daily increase in coronavirus infections exceeded 500 for the fourth straight day, a pace unseen since January, as experts raise concern about another viral surge amid a slow rollout in vaccines.

The 543 new cases reported by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Saturday brought the national caseload to 104,736, including 1,740 deaths.

More than 320 of the new cases came from the Seoul metropolitan area, home to half of the country’s 51 million people, where officials have struggled to stem transmissions tied to various places, including bars, offices, factories, schools, and gyms.

Health authorities this week said they are considering whether to approve rapid coronavirus tests that would allow people to regularly test themselves at home as they look for further tools to fight the virus.

South Korea has wrestled with a slower rollout of vaccines than many other developed economies, with officials insisting they could afford a wait-and-see approach as its outbreak isn’t as dire as in the United States or Europe.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

VACCINES: More than 101.8 million people, or 30.7% of the U.S. population, have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some 57.9 million people, or 17.5% of the population, have completed their vaccination.