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New COVID-19 cases below 20,000 for 2nd day as virus wave subsides

This photo taken Monday shows a quiet COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing station at a community health center in Seoul's western district of Mapo. (Yonhap)
This photo taken Monday shows a quiet COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing station at a community health center in Seoul's western district of Mapo. (Yonhap)

South Korea's new COVID-19 cases stayed below 20,000 for the second consecutive day Tuesday, extending the declining trend as the virus wave is subsiding.

The country reported 16,423 new COVID-19 infections, including 106 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 24,848,184, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

Tuesday's count is up from 12,150 the previous day but a significant drop from 39,410 a week earlier. Fewer tests from the extended weekend appear to have also affected the decrease in infection numbers. South Korea marked National Foundation Day on Monday.

The latest virus wave, triggered by the omicron variant spread, has been waning after peaking at around 180,000 cases a day in mid-August.

The public health agency reported 19 deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday, raising the death toll to 28,528.

The number of critically ill patients stood at 353, down by eight from the previous day.

Reflecting the virus slowdown, South Korea removed the COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing requirement for inbound travelers on the first day of arrival Saturday, in a further relaxation of antivirus restrictions amid pre-pandemic recovery efforts.

In-person visits are allowed at nursing homes and senior care hospitals beginning this week, an easing of the ban that had been put in place since July to prevent mass infections.

The government has lifted all outdoor mask mandates but decided to keep in place the rules for wearing masks indoors amid concerns over a possible outbreak of a "twindemic" of COVID-19 and the seasonal influenza this winter. (Yonhap)

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