S. Korea downgrades COVID-19 to lowest infection level

The infection level of COVID-19 was reduced to the lowest Class 4, on a level with seasonal flu, in South Korea on Thursday as part of the country's effort to fully return to a pre-pandemic level, health authorities said.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said its COVID-19 infection level transition measures, aimed at fully transitioning the medical system to a normal state, took effect the same day.

Under the measures, the coronavirus, which had been categorized as Class 2 along with tuberculosis, measles and cholera, became grouped with Class 4 infectious diseases like influenza and hand, foot and mouth disease. COVID-19 was categorized as Class 1 in January 2020 and lowered to the second level in April last year.

Starting Thursday, the government discontinued the daily tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases, which has been in place since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Infectious diseases in the fourth group are monitored mainly by designated sampling centers, while Class 2 diseases are subject to universal surveillance and outbreaks are reported to the authorities within 24 hours.

Instead, the KDCA said it will focus on protecting those highly vulnerable to the coronavirus and treating seriously ill patients.

The mask mandate will remain at hospitals and nursing homes as a measure of protection for people at a higher risk of serious infection, it added.

The government will cover part of the hospitalization costs of seriously ill patients through the end of this year and provide vaccines and treatments free of charge to minimize the burden on the public.

The number of COVID-19 infections in South Korea reached 264,000 for the fourth week of August, down 9.4 percent from a week earlier, marking the second consecutive on-week decline.

The weekly cases had been on the rise since the fourth week of June.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

Recent POSTS