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New virus cases back under 600 on fewer tests; potential upticks still worrisome

09:47 April 19, 2021

SEOUL, April 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases fell back below 600 for the first time in six days Monday mainly due to fewer tests over the weekend amid growing concerns over the fourth wave of the pandemic.

The country reported 532 more COVID-19 cases, including 512 local infections, raising the total caseload to 114,646, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

Monday's figure was sharply down from 672 the previous day.

The daily figure hovered above 600 in the past week as people have increased their activities in spring, which could spark another wave of the pandemic.

The country added four more deaths, raising the death toll to 1,801. The fatality rate was 1.57 percent.

This photo taken on April 18, 2021, shows a health worker clad in a protective suit guiding citizens at a makeshift COVID-19 testing clinic in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Last week, South Korea decided to maintain the current level of social distancing rules through May 2 to contain the virus, while placing more restrictions on entertainment establishments, such as nightclubs and bars.

The greater Seoul area, home to half of the nation's 52 million population, is under the Level 2 distancing scheme, the third highest in the five-phase system. The rest of the country is under Level 1.5, except for some municipalities that have adopted Level 2 measures.

Private gatherings of five or more people are banned nationwide.

From Monday, operations of entertainment establishments are banned in the greater Seoul area and the southeastern port city of Busan.

Of the newly confirmed locally transmitted cases, 288 cases came from the capital area, with 136 from Seoul, 142 from Gyeonggi Province and 10 from Incheon, 40 kilometers west of the capital.

The southern port city of Busan, the country's second-largest city, reported 25 more cases.

There were 20 additional imported cases, down three from a day earlier. The country's total number of imported cases is now at 8,002.

Health authorities are especially keeping close tabs on COVID-19 variants from overseas that are believed to be more contagious. On Sunday, they confirmed nine cases of the Indian variant, in addition to COVID-19 variants from Britain, South Africa and Brazil.

The number of seriously or critically ill COVID-19 patients was 99, down three from the previous day.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries was 104,474, up 468 from a day earlier, with 8,371 people being isolated for COVID-19 treatment, up 60 from a day ago.


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