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New virus cases below 100,000 for 3rd day amid ebbing omicron wave


South Korea’s daily tally of new coronavirus cases stayed below 100,000 for the third day in a row Saturday as the omicron wave is gradually subsiding.

The country added 75,449 new COVID-19 infections, including 29 cases from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 16,830,469, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said.

The new tally is down 5,609 cases from a day earlier and down 32,467 from a week earlier. It marks the lowest number for a Saturday since Feb. 12. 

Workers disassemble a makeshift COVID testing booth in front of Seoul Station on Friday. (Yonhapa)

Workers disassemble a makeshift COVID testing booth in front of Seoul Station on Friday. (Yonhapa)

The omicron wave has been steadily declining after bringing the country’s daily infection tally to its peak of 621,178 cases on March 17.

The death toll from COVID-19 came to 22,024, up 151 from the previous day. The fatality rate was 0.13 percent. The number of critically ill patients came to 738, down 95 from a day ago.

Of the locally transmitted infections, Seoul reported 12,352 cases and its surrounding Gyeonggi Province added 18,441 cases. The southern city of Daegu identified 3,966 cases.

As of midnight Friday, 44.53 million, or 86.8 percent of the 52 million population, had been fully vaccinated, and 33.06 million, or 64.4 percent, had received their first COVID-19 booster shots, the KDCA said.

Starting this week, major COVID-19 social distancing requirements, except the mask mandate, were lifted, including a curfew on operating hours of restaurants, cafes and other small businesses, as well as the cap on the size of private gatherings, in line with the country’s subsiding pandemic.

The country is set to further ease COVID-19 restrictions in public spaces, permitting eating and drinking on public transit, theaters, religious houses and indoor stadiums, Monday.

Also on Monday, the government plans to downgrade COVID-19 to the second-highest level of its four-tier infectious disease control system.

Under the changed policy, coronavirus patients will be free of mandatory self-quarantine and can receive treatment at local clinics as early as late May.

In early May, the government will also determine whether to lift the mask mandate in outdoor places, although it has said requiring masks indoors will be unavoidable for “a considerable time.” (Yonhap)





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