Korea reports another single-digit number of coronavirus infections

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Korea reports another single-digit number of coronavirus infections

Korea reported another single-digit number of new coronavirus cases with no death Friday, apparently on the back of a strict social distancing campaign and enhanced quarantine measures.

The country added six new Covid-19 cases, bringing the nation's total infections to 10,708, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The country reported a single-digit increase in new infections Sunday for the first time in two months at eight, followed by 13 cases the following day, nine on Tuesday, 15 on Wednesday and eight on Thursday.

The figure marks a sharp drop from the Feb. 29 peak of 909 new cases. The country confirmed its first Covid-19 infection on Jan. 20.

The nation's death toll from the respiratory disease remained unchanged at 240, the authorities said. It marks the first time in a month that the country reported no single death.

The average fatality rate reached 2.24 percent. The figure, however, reached 23.5 percent for patients in their 80s and above.

Of the six cases detected, two were tentatively sorted as imported cases, according to the KCDC.

Despite the looming signs of a slowdown locally, health authorities said they remain wary of the continued rise in imported cases.

The total number of cases coming in from abroad reached 1,021 on Friday, with Korean nationals taking up around 92 percent of such cases, according to the KCDC.

The figure accounts for nearly 10 percent of the total confirmed cases, it said.

In total, 8,501 virus patients in Korea have been discharged from hospitals, up 90 from a day earlier.

The number of new infections continued to slow in the southeastern city of Daegu, the nation's worst virus-hit region that accounts for around 64 percent of the total cases, with just two additional cases.

With its monthlong social distancing drive, Korea avoided the worst-case scenario despite being one of the first countries hit hard by the virus that originated from China.

While health authorities remain wary of another wave of Covid-19 infections, the country is slowly moving to lift some of its social distancing regulations this week, giving the go-ahead for some facilities, including gyms.

The country, however, said overall social distancing is still in force until May 5, and it is considering moving toward so-called everyday life quarantine after the date if the number of cases continues to plateau.

The government said Friday it will allow people in Korea to buy three discounted face masks per week under a public distribution system and also announced a plan to supply Korean War veterans abroad with 1 million masks.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said citizens would need more masks once they increase economic activities, going forward.

Korea suffered a mask supply crisis when the country's coronavirus outbreak peaked in late February and early March. The government stepped in to regulate mask production and distribution.

All Koreans and registered noncitizens here can buy two KF94 masks a week on an assigned day, which depends on their birth year, at pharmacies and other designated places nationwide.

"The mask supply has been stabilized a lot" thanks to the system, Chung said during an interagency meeting on the Covid-19 response.

Beginning next week, three masks will be allotted to each individual, according to the prime minister.
"I am still cautious, but we now have room to care about neighboring countries in need," Chung said.

As this year marks the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War, the government has decided to send a total of 1 million masks to foreign war veterans who helped defend the country, he added.

Starting Monday, Chung also said, violators of the self-isolation rule will be required to wear wrist bands, designed to trace their locations.

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