A photo shows a rather empty COVID-19 testing station in central Seoul, Thursday. (Yonhap)
The number of severe COVID-19 cases dropped to three digits for the first time in almost six weeks, according to government data Thursday.
The number of critically ill patients, as of midnight Wednesday, marked 962, down 52 from the previous day, Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency figures showed.
It was the first time for the figure to drop below 1,000 since March 7, when the country reported 955 severe cases.
The occupancy rate of hospital beds for critically ill COVID-19 patients also fell by 3.6 percentage points to 51 percent.
The number of critically ill COVID-19 patients dropped while the country’s daily infections continued to fall.
On Wednesday, the country added 148,443 new COVID-19 infections, down from the previous day’s 195,419. The daily tally was also significantly lower than 224,820 a week before and 320,743 two weeks prior.
The recent decrease in the number of severe cases was, however, also partly due to an increase in the number of deaths from the coronavirus.
During the 24 hours of Wednesday, the country reported 318 COVID-19 deaths, up 134 from a day earlier.
Meanwhile, the government plans to announce its decision on social distancing measures during a COVID-19 response meeting Friday.
Authorities on Wednesday hinted that they are considering lifting most of the social distancing rules that expire Sunday.
The 10-person cap on private gatherings and the midnight curfew for most businesses are expected to be scrapped. Lifting the outdoor mask mandate is also being discussed, and the government may change the current mask-wearing rules.
The government is reportedly considering allowing people to go without masks outdoors unless they are participating in a mass gathering.
On Friday, the country’s health authorities will introduce its post-omicron scheme, in which the government aims to normalize the medical system to pre-pandemic days.
By Shim Woo-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org