SEOUL, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- South Korea decided Friday to tighten anti-virus measures from next week amid a surging number of COVID-19 cases and an emerging worry about the potentially more transmissible Omicron variant.
The maximum number of private gatherings allowed in the Seoul metropolitan area, consisting of the capital Seoul, its surrounding Gyeonggi province and the western port city of Incheon, will be lowered to six from the current 10 for four weeks from Dec. 6.
In non-metropolitan areas, the ceiling on private gatherings will be cut to eight from the current 12 for four weeks, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
The tougher rule came as new COVID-19 cases soared in the past month following the government's launch of the eased social-distancing campaign called "living with COVID-19" in November.
In the latest tally, the country reported 4,944 more cases of COVID-19 for the past 24 hours, lifting the total number of infections to 462,555.
The daily caseload was down from the record high of 5,266 the previous day, but the daily number stayed above 5,000 for the past two days.
Concerns heightened over the potentially more contagious Omicron variant as the country confirmed its first cases of the variant infection, including four imported cases and two local transmissions earlier this week.