S. Korea’s new COVID-19 cases rise amid eased virus curbs
SEOUL-- South Korea's new coronavirus cases bounced back to above 40,000 on Tuesday amid the government's eased virus curbs to move the country back to pre-pandemic normalcy.
The country added 49,933 new COVID-19 infections, including 23 cases from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 17,614,895, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
The tally is up from 40,064 on Sunday and 20,601 on Monday.
The jump came as family and religious gatherings increased last week as Children's Day fell on Thursday, and Parents' Day and Buddha's Birthday on Sunday.
The daily count also tends to fall on Mondays and Sundays due to fewer tests on the weekend before rising toward the end of the week.
The public health agency reported 62 COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 23,462, the KDCA said. The fatality rate stood at 0.13 percent.
The number of critically ill patients came to 398, down from 421 a day earlier.
As of 9 p.m. South Korea had reported 42,451 new daily infections, down 6,040 from the same time a day earlier, according to health authorities and local governments. Daily cases are counted until midnight and announced the following morning.
On Tuesday, the government decided to prolong its rapid antigen testing system, first adopted in mid-March.
Under the system, people who test positive in such tests conducted by medical professionals are officially confirmed infected even if they were not confirmed by the more precise polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.
On May 2, South Korea lifted the outdoor mask mandate, except for large gatherings of 50 or more, as it is moving toward a return to normalcy. The indoor mask mandate remains in effect.
Of the locally transmitted cases, Seoul on Tuesday reported 8,142 new cases and Gyeonggi Province surrounding the capital identified 11,334 cases.
As of midnight Monday, 44.56 million people, or 86.8 percent of the 52 million population, had been fully vaccinated, according to the KDCA data.
A total of 33.19 million people had received their first booster shots, representing 64.7 percent, and 2.97 million people, or 5.8 percent, had their second booster shots.
The country's daily infections have been on the downward trend in recent weeks after peaking at over 620,000 in mid-March amid the spreading omicron variant.
Source: Yonhap News Agency