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S. Korea’s daily COVID-19 cases up week-on-week for two straight days

Upcoming administration is expected make adjustments to the country’s return to normal scheme

A visitor at a local COVID-19 testing facility in Seoul (Yonhap)
A visitor at a local COVID-19 testing facility in Seoul (Yonhap)

South Korea’s daily COVID-19 cases increased week-on-week for the second consecutive day, government data showed Monday.

According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, the country added 20,601 new COVID-19 infections during the 24 hours of Sunday. The total caseload rose to 17,564,999.

The daily tally reported on Monday was up 517 from 20,084 a week ago, showing a week-on-week increase for the second straight day. On the previous day, the country’s daily COVID-19 infections rose to 40,064 from the previous Sunday’s 37,771.

Recent withdrawals of antivirus measures fueled the increases in COVID-19 cases over the past two days, experts expected. Increased outdoor activities, coinciding with an extended holiday that included Children‘s Day and the weekend, might have played a part as well.

In the meantime, health authorities reported 40 deaths from COVID-19, down 31 from the previous day’s 71. The death toll came to 23,400, and the fatality rate stood at 0.13 percent.

The number of critically ill patients came to 421, slightly down from 423 a day earlier but staying in the 400s for 10 straight days.

Amid a slowdown of the downward trend in COVID-19 cases, the incoming Yoon Suk-yeol administration may bring changes to the country’s pandemic measures.

The government last month announced that it would downgrade the COVID-19 infectious disease level by one notch to Class 2 from Class 1 in the four-tier system. It added it would give a four-week period before the actual changes take effect, which is supposed to end on May 22.

If goes as planned, from May 23, patients infected with COVID-19 will no longer have to isolate themselves for seven days but be treated under the general medical system instead.

The Yoon administration, however, might postpone the day that the government officially introduces new rules for COVID-19, given that it previously criticized the Moon administration’s decision to downgrade the COVID-19 infectious disease level, calling it a “hasty“ call.

If the new administration keeps its conservative approach to the downgrading of the disease level, the county would maintain the seven-day isolation rule for confirmed patients and continue to have COVID-19 patients be treated at designated treatment facilities.

The new administration, however, can further ease the country’s mask rule this month, possibly allowing for people to go completely mask-free in outdoor spaces.

The government earlier this month lifted the outdoor mask mandate, except for large gatherings of 50 or more.

(ws@heraldcorp.com)
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