Daily Covid cases fall to 34,370
Korea’s daily Covid-19 cases fell to the 30,000s on Monday for the first time in two and a half months amid a continuing subsiding of the wave coupled with fewer tests on the weekend.
Korea reported 34,370 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, raising the total caseload to 16,929,564, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
Daily new infections nearly halved from Sunday’s 64,725 cases, and came down to the 30,000s for the first time in 76 days since Feb. 8’s 36,713 cases.
The number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients in critical condition is also decreasing.
Critical cases totaled 668 as of Sunday midnight, down by 58 from the previous day.
Korea added 110 more virus related-deaths, bringing the death toll to 22,243.
A week has passed since nearly all social distancing measures except for mask-wearing rules were lifted last Monday.
A decision on lifting the outdoor mask mandate is to be made this week.
“It appears that the possibility of virus transmission outdoors is significantly lower than indoors,” Son Young-rae, senior epidemiological strategist at the Central Disaster Management Headquarters, told reporters on Monday.
“While there are concerns that lifting the outdoor mask-wearing rule may make people neglect to wear masks indoors, there are also opinions that it would promote outdoor activities and help people to come out,” Son added.
From Monday, more virus rules were eased, such as allowing people to eat in indoor facilities such as movie theaters, sports facilities and on public transit like some trains, airplanes and express buses. The consumption of food on city and town buses, which generally have more passengers, is still banned.
Large retail chains and department stores can set up food sampling booths in designated areas.
In accordance with the weakened virus wave, Covid-19 was downgraded to a Class 2 infectious disease from the highest Class 1.
Class 1 infectious diseases — such as Ebola, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) — require medical staff to immediately report to the health authorities upon confirmation of an infected patient, and infected people must be quarantined in high-level isolation facilities such as negative pressure rooms. With Covid-19 as a Class 2 notifiable infectious disease, health workers are allowed to report a confirmed case within 24 hours.
The 7-day quarantine requirement for positive patients will be maintained for a four-week transition period, after which isolation will be a recommendation.
The roll-out of fourth doses of Covid-19 vaccines for people aged 60 or older expanded from Monday.
President Moon Jae-in and first lady Kim Jung-sook received their fourth doses with the Pfizer vaccine at a public health center in Jongno District, central Seoul, on Monday morning. Moon had received his first and second shots in March and April last year, and got a third shot on Oct. 15.
Hong Kyung-hee, deputy spokesperson for the team, said Monday that its Covid-19 Emergency Task Force finalized the comprehensive antivirus measures on Monday afternoon, which will be announced by the chief of the transition team chief Ahn Cheol-soo on Wednesday.
Support measures for small business owners, including compensation for losses, are to be announced either on Thursday or Friday.
BY SEO JI-EUN [email@example.com]