Cases back in 700s as fresh batch of Pfizer arrives
Korea's daily new coronavirus cases rose back into the 700s Wednesday as new cases were reported sporadically throughout the country.
According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), Korea added 731 new Covid-19 cases as of Tuesday midnight — nearly 200 cases more than the previous day.
The country’s daily caseload seemed to be easing up over the past two days, with 532 cases Monday and 549 cases Tuesday, but surpassed 700 Wednesday. Fewer tests are conducted over the weekend, which usually leads to a drop in confirmed cases reported a few days after the weekend.
Unlike the previous waves in which mass infections centered around a specific facility or group, the recent sporadic infections have been sneaking into people's daily lives — making it difficult for the government to catch the spread even before the third wave of infections that started last November was settled down.
The country’s total Covid-19 caseload increased to 115,926 as of Tuesday midnight, according to the KDCA.
The daily average of local cases in the past week from April 15 to 21 was 644.6, already passing Korea's social distancing guidelines for Level 2.5, which only require an average of 400 to 500 cases daily nationwide.
The greater Seoul area accounted for 64.9 percent of the day's total local transmissions with 211 in Seoul, 225 in Gyeonggi and 13 in Incheon.
New clusters were reported at a public facility in Mapo District, western Seoul, and a restaurant in Eunpyeong District, northern Seoul (17 cases total); a university in Gimpo, Gyeonggi (10 cases); a cafeteria in Gwangmyeong Middle School (11 cases) and a gathering in Seongnam (13 cases).
In the non-metropolitan area, 40 new cases came from South Gyeongsang, followed by 39 in Ulsan, 33 in Busan, 25 in Daegu and 19 in North Chungcheong.
Seven people, including children and teachers, were confirmed positive from a day care center in Gwangju.
Four more deaths were reported nationwide, bringing the death toll to 1,806.
On Tuesday, health officials administered Covid-19 shots to 130,228 people, raising the total number of vaccinated people to 1,771,407, while 60,597 people have been fully vaccinated with two doses since the country started its vaccination campaign on Feb. 26.
AstraZeneca's vaccine has been given to 1,093,174 people, while 678,233 received Pfizer's.
A new batch of 250,000 Pfizer doses for 125,000 people arrived at 8:40 a.m. Wednesday.
Currently, Pfizer vaccines are given to senior citizens aged 75 or older, and people living or working in facilities for the elderly.
The government signed a contract with Pfizer to purchase a total of 26 million doses, or enough to vaccinate 13 million people. Currently, 1.75 million doses (for 875,000 people) have arrived in the country.
The Pfizer vaccines have been delivered to Korea regularly every Wednesday. An additional 250,000 Pfizer doses will be delivered on April 28, followed by 1.75 million doses in May and 3.25 million doses in June each.
A total of 7 million Pfizer doses will be delivered to Korea by the first half of this year, including the ones already received.
The government has secured Covid-19 vaccines for 79 million people in total.
Vaccines for 10 million people were procured through the Covax Facility, the World Health Organization (WHO)'s multilateral vaccine-sharing mechanism.
Korea additionally signed for vaccines for 69 million people through individual contracts with pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca vaccines for 10 million people, Pfizer for 13 million people, Janssen for 6 million people, Moderna for 20 million people and Novavax for 20 million people.
The government is currently seeking to purchase additional vaccines.
BY SEO JI-EUN [email@example.com]