Health workers check equipment after transferring a COVID-19 patient to a local hospital, Monday. (Yonhap)
South Korea‘s daily COVID-19 infections stayed above 200,000 for a fourth straight day, according to the country‘s health authorities on Monday. Although the daily figure‘s growth slowed down over the weekend, the government expects it to rebound this week.
According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s report on Monday, the country added 210,716 new COVID-19 infections during the 24 hours of Sunday. The total caseload increased to 4,666,977, nearing a grim milestone of 5 million.
The country’s daily cases declined over the weekend since reaching an all-time high of 266,850 cases Friday. Yet, the daily figure reported on Monday was still 1.5 times greater than that reported last Monday and 2.2 times greater than that of two weeks ago.
The government expects the daily tally to rebound as more people receive COVID-19 tests on weekdays.
The government currently sees that the daily figure could peak at as many as 350,000 infections a day by mid-March.
Some experts here, however, argue that the number of daily infections can go beyond 350,000 as the government has eased the social distancing rules.
On Saturday, the government pushed back the business curfew by an hour to 11 p.m. to help business owners and small merchants, who have been suffering from financial distress during the pandemic, while making no change to the six-person limit on private gatherings.
Potential rises in the number of infections among the student population is expected as well since schools started in-person classes in early March.
Along with the ongoing omicron infection wave, critical cases also increased. The number of critically ill patients rose to 955 during the 24 hours of Sunday, up 70 from a day earlier. This is an almost two-fold increase from the figure reported on Feb. 23.
The country’s health authorities anticipate the number of critically ill patients could reach between 1,700 and 2,750 during this month.
The hospital bed occupancy rate for critically ill COVID-19 patients reached 59.8 percent, up 3.4 percent points from the previous day.
The number of COVID-19 patients who are under at-home treatment also increased to 1.15 million from 1.12 million.
The number of COVID-19 deaths on Sunday reached 139, down 22 from a day earlier. The death toll reached 9,096, and the fatality rate was 0.19 percent.
By Shim Woo-hyun (email@example.com