New virus cases remain in 2,000s ahead of ‘living with COVID-19’ measures

SEOUL– South Korea’s new COVID-19 cases surpassed 2,000 for the fourth consecutive day on Sunday, deepening health authorities’ worries over a possible resurgence of virus infections ahead of the implementation of measures to get back to normalcy.

The country added 2,061 new COVID-19 cases, including 2,052 local infections, raising the total caseload to 364,700, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

The daily cases dropped to 1,190 on Monday, but resurged from Wednesday and remained above 2,000 throughout the rest of this week.

The death toll rose by 19 to 2,849 on Sunday. The fatality rate stood at 0.78 percent.

Health authorities and local governments reported 1,413 new cases from 12 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, down 464 from the same time the previous day. Daily cases are counted until midnight and announced the following morning.

As South Korea is slated to implement its first step to get back to normal life starting Monday, the recent rise in the number of new daily cases put the authorities on alert.

The average number of daily confirmed cases rose about 34 percent to 1,829 over the past week from the previous week.

Amid concern that the virus could spread further during the Halloween weekend, the government warned of strict measures against violators of distancing rules, including foreigners.

Under the three-step measure of the “living with COVID-19,” most of the country’s virus curbs are scheduled to be lifted by the end of January next year, backed by a rising vaccination rate at over 73 percent.

Starting on Monday, people will be able to gather in groups of up to 10, including up to four unvaccinated people, in the greater Seoul area and up to 12 in other areas, but mask-wearing rules will stay in effect.

Business hour curfews for restaurants and cafes will be fully lifted, except for nightlife establishments.

High-risk facilities, such as bars and nightclubs, are required to introduce the “vaccine pass” system under which visitors have to show a vaccination certificate or negative test result.

Most indoor facilities including ecological indoor gardens in national parks under the environment ministry will open to the public, excluding mountain shelters.

About 41.13 million people, or 80.1 percent of the country’s 52-million population, have received their first COVID-19 vaccine shots.

The number of fully vaccinated people came to 38.66 million, or 75.3 percent.

Of the locally transmitted cases, Seoul had 756 cases, with the surrounding Gyeonggi Province logging 700 cases and Incheon, west of Seoul, 157 cases.

Nine cases came from overseas, putting the cumulative total at 15,093.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries came to 336,548, up by 1,967 from a day earlier, the KDCA said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency