S. Korea downgrades disease level of COVID-19 with 4-week transition period

Medical workers take a rest at an empty COVID-19 testing facility in Seoul, Sunday. (Yonhap)

Medical workers take a rest at an empty COVID-19 testing facility in Seoul, Sunday. (Yonhap)

COVID-19 will be downgraded in South Korea’s four-tier infectious disease categorization system starting Monday, following the recent pandemic downturn.

Eating inside movie theaters, indoor gyms and religious facilities has been allowed, starting on the same day.

The government’s downgrading of the COVID-19 infectious level comes with a four-week transition period, during which the government will see if it will finally downgrade the COVID-19 infectious level.

For the next four weeks, the government will maintain most of its antivirus measures, including the seven-day mandatory quarantine for confirmed cases.

By the end of next month, the government is scheduled to officially announce whether or not it will downgrade the COVID-19 infectious disease level.

Once the disease level is downgraded, COVID-19 patients will be free of the seven-day self-quarantine and be able to receive treatment at local clinics and hospitals. The government will no longer have to keep track of the patients’ health status as well.

The country’s health authorities, however, said it can postpone the planned downgrading of the COVID-19 infectious disease level, depending on how the pandemic develops.

Starting Monday, food consumption at venues where eating was prohibited during the pandemic — including movie theaters, indoor gyms and religious facilities — will also be allowed again. Eating inside city and village buses, however, will remain banned.

The government’s recent implementation of new antivirus rules comes amid the weakening pandemic.

According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s report on Sunday, South Korea reported 64,725 new COVID-19 infections during the 24 hours of Saturday, staying below 100,000 for the fourth consecutive day. The total caseload reached 16,895,194.

The number of deaths from COVID-19 reported during the same period came to 109, while that of critically ill patients came to 726, down 12 from a day earlier.

With the clear signs that the pandemic is receding, the government is expected to lift the outdoor mask mandate in early May.

By Shim Woo-hyun (

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