The Korea Herald


S. Korea reports no new local virus cases for 3rd day amid lax social distancing

By Yonhap

Published : May 6, 2020 - 10:35

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(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

South Korea reported only two more cases of the new coronavirus, all of which are imported cases, on Wednesday, marking no local new infections for the third consecutive day amid relaxed social distancing.

The new infections brought the nation's total case load to 10,806, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

On Tuesday, the country added just three cases, the lowest figure in more than two months.

The country decided to lift its strict social distancing scheme that had been put in force since early March starting Wednesday, amid a slowdown in the number of new infections that had peaked at more than 900 in late February.

South Koreans are allowed to go back to their daily routines while adhering to basic precautionary guidelines. Schools will open in phases starting next week as well.

Imported cases, however, remain a potential threat. The total number of imported cases reached 1,104, with South Korean nationals being responsible for more than 90 percent.

Health authorities said they are beefing up quarantine operations at Incheon International Airport, the country's main gateway, especially for arrivals from Kuwait, as a total of six people who arrived from the Middle Eastern nation have tested positive over the past four days.

The nation's death toll increased by one to 255.

The overall fatality rate reached 2.36 percent. The rate for patients aged 80 and above stood at 25 percent.

In total, 9,333 people in South Korea have recovered from the virus, up 50 from a day earlier. So far, 86.4 percent of the patients have been cured.

Daegu, the nation's worst virus-hit region located 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, added no new cases for the third consecutive day. The city accounts for 64 percent of the nation's total COVID-19 cases.

So far, a total of 356 people who fully recovered from COVID-19 have again tested positive here. No secondary infections were attributed to such patients, according to health authorities.

South Korea has carried out 643,095 tests since Jan. 3, including 2,858 on Tuesday. The country reported its first COVID-19 case, a Chinese person, on Jan. 20.

In sync with the eased quarantine guidelines, health authorities said earlier they are considering lowering the nation's warning level by a notch from the highest level of four.

Starting Wednesday, South Korea will gradually re-open state-run cultural facilities, such as museums and libraries, with regulations, including adopting a reservation system.

The country's sports leagues will kick off their seasons gradually this month without spectators. South Korea will consider allowing the games to have audiences depending on the situation.

Health authorities say the relaxed social distancing does not mean that South Korea has fully contained the pandemic.

"South Korea can return to the enhanced social-distancing scheme anytime if the situation worsens again," KCDC Director-General Jeong Eun-kyeong said.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is unlikely to be terminated in a short period. Rather, it will last for a longer period, after going through ups and downs," she added.

"We plan to bolster the monitoring of the COVID-19 infections for the following two weeks, as the country has celebrated a long holiday through Tuesday," Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip also said.

"If the spread of the virus continues to slow, South Korea will be able to put the infection under control within the boundary of our medical system," Kim added.

Experts warn another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic may hit the country hard later, given the lack of a vaccine for the highly contagious virus.

While South Korea started to use electronic wristbands equipped with a location-tracking system on people who violate self-isolation rules last week, only two bands have been applied so far. (Yonhap)