S.Korea picks new health chief as virus cases surge
Country reports 629 more cases, 7 deaths as government mulls stricter measures
In a Cabinet reshuffle, South Korea’s president on Friday picked a new health chief as the coronavirus situation in the country worsens.
Moon Jae-in nominated Kwon Deok-cheol, head of the Korea Health Industry Development Institute, to be the new health minister, state Yonhap News reported.
He also picked new interior, transport and gender equality ministers, all of which must be confirmed by the country's National Assembly.
South Korea on Friday reported a nine-month high in coronavirus cases, most in the area of the capital Seoul, where nearly half of Koreans live.
At least 629 more COVID-19 cases were reported, included 600 local infections, bringing the country's national total to 36,332. Seven more deaths pushed the total fatalities to 536.
"The number of daily locally transmitted cases is the third-highest total, another sign that the country is under a critical alert over a bigger wave of the pandemic coming during the winter," health authorities said.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said: "The number of COVID-19 cases is again on an upward momentum, and the crisis is continuing. The government will monitor the current pace until the weekend before deciding on whether to adopt additional measures on Sunday."