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S. Korea’s daily COVID-19 cases go under 60,000

Anticipated lifting of outdoor mask mandate up in the air as President-elect Yoon’s transition team says no

People wear masks on a street in central Seoul. (Yonhap)
People wear masks on a street in central Seoul. (Yonhap)

South Korea’s daily COVID-19 cases dropped under 60,000 for the 24 hours of Wednesday, government data showed Thursday.

According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency’s report, the country added 57,464 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total caseload to 17,144,065.

The number of deaths from COVID-19 on the day came to 122, down 19 from the previous day’s 141. The death toll reached 22,588, with the fatality rate standing at 0.13 percent.

Severe cases, however, went slightly up to 552 from the previous day’s 546, though remaining in the 500s for a second consecutive day.

The country’s recent COVID-19 figures continue to show clear signs of slowing COVID-19 transmission this month. Compared to 148,443 daily infections two weeks ago, the country’s daily cases Wednesday were slashed by more than half.

The number of daily infections has continued to drop even after the country lifted all social distancing rules, starting last week.

A week ago, two days after all social distancing rules were lifted except the universal mask mandate, daily COVID-19 cases marked 90,867. However, the country’s daily cases never bounced back to that level, and continued a steady downward trend.

With the apparent receding of the pandemic, it had become more likely the government might drop its outdoor mask mandate.

On April 15, when the country announced it would drop the social distancing rules, the government added it planned to make a decision on the mask rule after two weeks.

Since then, expectations have grown among the public of being able to take off masks, at least in outdoor spaces.

However, the public may have to wait a few more weeks, as President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s transition team has decided to take a more conservative approach to the mask rule.

On Wednesday, Ahn Cheol-soo, chairman of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s transition team, said that by the end of May the new administration would make a decision on dropping the outdoor mask mandate.

The tug-of-war between the current administration and the incoming Yoon administration’s transition team over the mask rule is causing public confusion, some have criticized.



By Shim Woo-hyun (ws@heraldcorp.com)
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