New cases fall below 2,000 amid concerns about spike in outbreaks after Chuseok holiday
South Korea's daily coronavirus cases fell below 2,000 on Sunday due to fewer tests over the weekend, but concerns linger over a spike in transmissions after the Chuseok holiday, when millions of people usually travel across the country to meet relatives.
The country reported an additional 1,910 COVID-19 cases, including 1,871 local infections, raising the total caseload to 285,931, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
The country added 10 more deaths from COVID-19, raising the death toll to 2,404. The fatality rate was 0.84 percent.
Sunday's number came after the nation reported more than 2,000 daily infections for a second day in a row.
Daily cases have stayed above the 1,000s for 75 consecutive days amid the fast spread of the more transmissible delta variant nationwide.
Health authorities remain on high alert as virus spread could further expand in other regions after the five-day Chuseok holiday running from Saturday through Wednesday, when a huge number of people are expected to travel across the country.
The authorities urged people to minimize travel and gatherings during the holiday. They also plan to enforce special quarantine measures, including running COVID-19 testing clinics at highway rest stops, for two weeks through Sept. 26.
South Korea earlier said it will maintain Level 4 social distancing rules, the highest in the four-tier social distancing regime, for Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi Province, home to around half of the country's total population, and Level 3 for other regions until Oct. 3, though the government recently eased some restrictions to help struggling small stores and businesses.
Health authorities have sought to increase the vaccination rate in a bid to reduce exposure to the virus ahead of the holiday.
As of early Sunday, a total of 36.47 million people, or 71 percent of the country's population, have received their first shots of COVID-19 vaccines, and 22.12 million people, or 43.1 percent, have also been fully vaccinated, the KDCA said. South Korea targets to see 70 percent of the population fully vaccinated by end-October.
Of the newly confirmed domestic cases, 732 cases came from Seoul, 544 from Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds the capital city, and 180 cases from the western port city of Incheon, the KDCA said.
Busan, the country's second-largest city, added 44 cases, while the southeastern city of Daegu reported 47 more cases.
Source: Yonhap News Agency