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New virus cases above 600 for 3rd day; another wave of pandemic worrisome

A health worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a citizen at the central vaccination facility of the National Medical Center in central Seoul on April 30, 2021. (Yonhap)
A health worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a citizen at the central vaccination facility of the National Medical Center in central Seoul on April 30, 2021. (Yonhap)


South Korea's daily new virus cases remained in the 600s for the third straight day Saturday as sporadic cluster infections were reported across the nation amid concerns of another wave of infections.

The country reported 627 more COVID-19 cases, including 593 local infections, raising the total caseload to 122,634, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

The tally was down from 661 new cases Friday and 680 Thursday. The number of locally transmitted cases fell below 600 for the first time since April 11.

The country added three more deaths, raising the total death toll to 1,831.

The number of daily virus cases shot up to near 800 in recent weeks after staying in the 300-400s in March.

The country decided Friday to extend its current social distancing rules and a ban on private gatherings of five or more people for three more weeks until May 23.

Currently, the greater Seoul area, home to more than half of the country’s 52 million people, is under Level 2 social distancing, the third highest in the five-tier scheme, with the rest of the country under Level 1.5.

The country plans to apply a revamped social distancing system from July if daily virus cases remain under 1,000 by end-June.

A total of 3.32 million people have received at least their first shots of COVID-19 vaccines since the country started its vaccination program on Feb. 26, accounting for 6.5 percent of the total population.

AstraZeneca‘s vaccine has been given to 1.77 million people, while 1.55 million have received that of Pfizer.

A total of 16,196 cases of side effects after vaccinations have been reported, up 697 from a day earlier, but 98.1 percent were mild symptoms, including muscle pain and fever.

The KDCA said 75 deaths after vaccinations have been reported, up two from the previous day. They said the exact causes of the deaths remain unknown as they could not determine causality.

The country aims to vaccinate 12 million people by the end of June in a bid to achieve herd immunity by November.

Of the locally transmitted cases, Seoul reported 187 new cases, and Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital city identified 187 new patients. The southern port city of Busan reported 28 more cases.

Cases traced to a company in Paju, north of Seoul, came to 11, up 10 from the previous day.

Infections tied to a bar in Sacheon, 310 kilometers south of Seoul, added 12 on-day to reach 13.

Untraceable cases accounted for 27.8 percent of the total infections reported over the past two weeks.

The number of new imported cases came to 34, raising the total to 8,356.

The number of patients with serious symptoms across the country reached 174, up from 164 the previous day, the KDCA said.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries was 112,337, up 915 from a day earlier. (Yonhap)
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