Welcome to Arirang News.
This is Key Kim
We start with the top headlines at this hour.
South Korean health authorities are set to decide on Sunday whether to resume the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout.
This comes one day after the authorities suspended the rollout for school nurses over safety concerns caused by possible links between blood clots and the AstraZeneca vaccine.
That stage of the rollout was supposed to start on Thursday.
This announcement came after the European Medicines Agency, on Wednesday, local time, concluded that blood clotting should be listed as a "very rare" side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine, after finding a possible link between the two.
The country has so far given more than one million first doses... covering slightly more than 2 percent of the population... in the 41 days since the nationwide inoculation program started.
The vast majority were given the AstraZeneca vaccine.
About 170-thousand were given the Pfizer vaccine, of which more than 42-thousand people have received their second dose.
South Korea was hit with another substantial spike in new COVID-19 infections Thursday,... with 700 confirmed within a single 24 hour period.
The daily tally marks the highest count of confirmed cases in South Korea in 91 days, or since early January.
Officials are now admitting a fourth wave -- something that's been forecast for weeks -- might be around the corner.
674 of Thursday's cases were local transmissions.
The greater Seoul area reported 485 local infections,... accounting for 72 percent of the day's domestic cases.
The southern city of Busan recorded 51 new local infections.
Daejeon, a city in the center of the country, confirmed 25.
The South Korean government on Friday will announce new measures in a bid to stem the spread.
South Korea's main opposition party took home major victories in Wednesday's mayoral by-elections in the country's two biggest cities.... in what's seen as a test of public sentiment ahead of next year’s presidential election.
According to the final vote tally released by the National Election Commission, Oh Se-hoon of the People Power Party won 57-point-5 percent of the votes cast in Seoul while Park Young-sun of the ruling Democratic Party took 39-point-2 percent of the votes.
In Busan, Park Heong-joon of the PPP beat DP candidate Kim Young-choon by about 28 percentage points.
Turnout was at a record high for a by-election.
The new mayors will serve the remaining 14 months of their predecessors' four year term... until June 2022.
The U.S. is prepared to consider diplomacy with North Korea IF the North works toward denuclearization,... reiterating the Biden administration's stance.
Speaking at a briefing on Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Washington has "a clear objective as it relates to North Korea, which is denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula."
She also added the U.S. is continuing to enforce sanctions and consulting with its allies.
But she declined to comment on reports this week about activity at a North Korean shipyard... which observers note could be a part of preparations for a submarine-launched ballistic missile test.
Also on Wednesday, the Pentagon further reaffirmed that the U.S. goal is still the denuclearization of North Korea.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said that the Biden administration is reviewing how to reach that goal and that it will be achieved through close discussions with Seoul.
Kirby said this while highlighting the importance of South Korea-U.S. military exercises.
Another day of bloodshed... Myanmar security forces on Wednesday opened fire on pro-democracy protesters, killing at least twenty civilians.
Most of the fatalities were reported in the (사가잉) Sagaing region in the center of the country, with two deaths in the southern region of Bago.
Arrests were also made as demonstrators continue to fight back against the military coup that overthrew the country's elected government.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners says about 600 civilians, including 48 children, have been killed since the coup on February 1st.
Moving to weather forecast.
Warm, spring weather will continue for tomorrow, but there will be temperature fluctuations. While the daytime will be balmy with highs surpassing the seasonal averages, readings will quickly plummet overnight. Seoul and Daegu will drop to 6 degrees for the morning and single figures will be seen in other regions as well.
Dry conditions will continue to worsen and alerts have been issued. Advisories are in place for parts of inland regions, including here in the capital. Over the last 10 years, forest fires have occurred the most in South Korea throughout the month of April. So, please take extra precautions.
Sunny spells will prevail for the morning hours. Daejeon and Chuncheon will start off at 4 degrees Celsius.
The current temperatures are:
_______ degrees in Seoul
_______ degrees in Suwon
_______ degrees in Daegu
_______ degrees in Busan
And _______ degrees on Jejudo Island
You’re listening to Arirang Radio