SEOUL, Dec. 12 (CNA) - South Korea reported 950 new coronavirus cases as of Friday midnight (Dec 11), the highest daily count since the country's first case was confirmed in January, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Saturday.

Of the new cases, 928 were locally transmitted and 22 were imported, which bring the total tally to 41,736 infections, with 578 deaths.

More than 70 per cent of the domestically transmitted cases were from Seoul and its neighbouring areas.

Despite tougher social distancing rules that took effect on Tuesday, including unprecedented curfews on restaurants and most other businesses, South Korea is suffering a third wave of coronavirus outbreaks. The new cases have been consistently around 600 over the past week.

The surge has been a blow to South Korea's vaunted pandemic-fighting system which successfully used invasive tracing, testing and quarantine to avoid lockdowns and blunt previous waves, and keep infections below 50 per day for much of the summer.

Calling the current wave a critical crisis, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said on Friday he will dispatch around 800 military, police and government workers in every district of the greater Seoul area to help track down potential patients.