New cases under 2,000 for 3rd da

SEOUL-- South Korea's daily new COVID-19 cases stayed below 2,000 for a third straight day Monday as health authorities brace for potential upticks after another extended weekend.

The country added 1,297 more COVID-19 cases, including 1,284 local infections, raising the total caseload to 332,816, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

This is the first time since Aug. 2 that daily cases were counted in the 1,200s.

The country added eight more deaths from COVID-19, raising the death toll to 2,583. The fatality rate was 0.78 percent.

Health officials and local governments said 1,274 new cases had been confirmed as of 9 p.m., unchanged from the same time Sunday. Daily cases are counted until midnight and announced the following morning.

The daily number of COVID-19 cases has been staying in the quadruple digits since July 7. Daily infections fell below the 2,000 mark Saturday after reporting more than 2,000 cases per day from Wednesday to Friday.

But the authorities believe COVID-19 infections are not on a downward trend as the latest tally reflects fewer tests over the weekend.

They are concerned about a potential spike in new cases following a prolonged weekend ending Monday, which is a substitute holiday for Hangeul Day on Oct. 9, which celebrates the proclamation of the Korean alphabet.

Since mid-July, the greater Seoul area has been under Level 4 measures, which include business restrictions and a ban on private gatherings of three or more people after 6 p.m. in principle. Gatherings of up to six people, however, are currently allowed when at least four of them are fully vaccinated.

With the country's vaccinations gathering pace, the country is considering a gradual shift to a phase of "living with COVID-19" starting Nov. 9, under which COVID-19 is treated as an infectious respiratory disease, like seasonal influenza, with eased distancing being implemented.

The KDCA said the number of people who received a first vaccine dose had surpassed 40 million as of 4 p.m., representing 77.9 percent of population since the country began its inoculation campaign in February.

The KDCA added 90.6 percent of the adult population aged 18 and older has received the first dose of the vaccine.

The number of fully vaccinated people stood at 30.59 million, or 59.6 percent of the population, as of 4 p.m.

The authorities are urging unvaccinated people to get jabs as they found 83.1 percent of cases reported in the past two weeks were from those who have not completed their vaccinations.

So far, 306,445 cases of suspected post-vaccination side effects have been reported, with 2,161 counted in the past two days. More than 96 percent of the cases were mild symptoms, such as muscle pain and fever.

There have been 751 deaths after vaccination, though the authorities have yet to find a causal relationship between inoculation and death in most cases.

Of the locally transmitted cases, Seoul reported 509 new cases, with Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital city reporting 358 cases and Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, reporting 72 cases.

Among virus clusters, the number of cases linked to a construction site in Namyangju, east of Seoul, added 44 cases, raising its total to 79.

A factory in Changwon, 400 kilometers south of Seoul, reported five more cases, raising its total to 53, while the number of cases traced to a high school in Daejeon increased by three to 33.

The number of new imported cases came to 13, down 21 from the previous day. The accumulated total of imported cases is now at 14,724.

Of the newly confirmed imported cases, the Philippines and Russia each accounted for four cases.

The number of patients with serious symptoms across the country reached 371, down from 377 the previous day, the KDCA said.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries came to 298,022, up 1,314 from a day earlier.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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