Authorities urge caution as daily Covid-19 cases drop below 400
“The downward trend [in daily coronavirus cases] may change course anytime,” said Yoon Tae-ho, an official at the Central Disaster Management Headquarters, in a Friday briefing. “The coronavirus is more active in winter, and we also can’t overlook [the chances of] coronavirus variants” from abroad spreading in local society.
Although daily infections are significantly lower than last month, they’re still as high as when the country was undergoing its second wave of the pandemic between last August and November, Yoon pointed out.
Yoon’s warning came as Korea added 346 new cases Thursday, down from 401 the day before, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). Most were from Seoul and the surrounding province of Gyeonggi.
Health officials feared daily coronavirus cases might surge after eased social distancing measures went into effect last Monday in the greater Seoul area encompassing Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi, but this week’s day-to-day infections have been lower than last week.
Yoon said health authorities have launched discussions with experts on ways to improve the central government’s five-tier social distancing system, hinting at another change in the contentious guidelines just two months after they were vastly updated.
For weeks, small businesses that have been forced to close early or entirely shut down — such as gyms and clubs — due to risks of virus transmission have protested the government orders, some suing for compensation.
Of the 346 people who were newly diagnosed with the virus Thursday, 314 were due to domestic transmission, KDCA data showed Friday morning.
There were 113 cases found in Seoul, 102 in Gyeonggi, 23 in Busan, 21 in South Gyeongsang, 12 in North Gyeongsang, eight each in Incheon and Gangwon, seven each in South Chungcheong and South Jeolla, five in Daegu, two each in Gwangju, Ulsan and Jeju Island and one each in Daejeon and North Chungcheong.
Sejong City and North Jeolla saw no new cases.
Twelve patients died Thursday, raising total deaths to 1,328, while 569 patients recovered, bringing total recoveries to 61,415. As of Thursday at midnight, Korea had counted 74,262 Covid-19 cases in all.
Amid rising concerns of the British and South African coronavirus variants spreading in the United States, President Joe Biden issued an executive order Thursday requiring international air travelers to self-quarantine upon arrival in the United States.
Biden did not specify how long travelers will have to self-isolate, but mentioned that they would be “required to comply” with guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC advises people to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.
When the order will go into effect was not explained in the White House press release.
BY LEE SUNG-EUN [email@example.com]