South Korean health authorities warned on Friday that they will consider increasing the level of social distancing to the highest level if nationwide COVID-19 outbreaks continue after the upcoming weekend.

The country's virus fight has reached a critical phase as its daily new virus cases surpassed 300 for the first time since early March on Friday mainly due to the church-linked clusters in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province, home to half of the country's 51 million people, reports Yonhap News Agency.

People outside a supermarket in SouthKorea
People wait outside a supermarket in South Korea to buy face masks following the coronavirus outbreak in the country. BBC News/Screenshot

The country added 324 more COVID-19 cases, including 315 local infections, raising the total caseload to 16,670, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

Numbers On The Rise

Friday's tally marked the most since March 8 when the daily virus cases reached 367. The number of daily infections has been in the triple digits since August 14 when 103 additional cases were reported, with about 1,900 cases being newly identified in the past eight days.

Since the first outbreak on January 20, South Korea's new daily virus cases peaked at 909 on Feb. 29 and have been declining on massive testing and contact tracing. In early May, the country relaxed six weeks of strict social distancing on the flattened virus curve. South Korea reported two more deaths, raising the tally to 309. The fatality rate was 1.85 percent.