By Josh Smith
SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea reported 1,029 new coronavirus cases on Friday amid subdued New Year's celebrations.
The tally was up from 967 the day before, and brought total cases to 61,769, with 917 deaths, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
After initial success in subduing earlier waves of infections, South Korea has struggled to reduce this latest and largest surge, with daily cases hovering around 1,000 for weeks.
Amid the strictest social distancing restrictions yet, authorities shut down the beaches on the country's east coast where people traditionally gathered to watch the first sunrise of the New Year.
In Seoul, the Bosingak bell-ringing ceremony was cancelled for the first time since 1953, though it was streamed on the city's website.
Global K-Pop sensation BTS celebrated New Year's Eve with an online concert on Thursday along with other K-pop groups from its management agency Big Hit Entertainment and fans from around the world.
This week South Korean health officials transferred dozens of elderly coronavirus patients from nursing homes to hospitals after criticism that government policy had led to a spike in deaths among the vulnerable residents.
(Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Kim Coghill)