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(2nd LD) New cases over 2,000 for 2nd straight day amid upsurge worries after Chuseok

18:41 September 18, 2021

(ATTN: CHANGES headline; UPDATES throughout; ADDS latest figure in paras 6-7)

SEOUL, Sept. 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's daily coronavirus cases exceeded 2,000 for the second consecutive day Saturday amid worries about a possible upsurge after a major holiday when people will travel across the country in droves.

The country reported an additional 2,087 COVID-19 cases, including 2,047 local infections, raising the total caseload to 284,022, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

The country added five more deaths from COVID-19, raising the death toll to 2,394. The fatality rate was 0.84 percent.

This marked the second day in a row that daily infections have topped 2,000. The latest tally also represented the fourth-largest tally of daily infections since the first case was confirmed early last year.

Daily cases have stayed above 1,000 for 74 consecutive days amid the fast spread of the more transmissible delta variant nationwide.

Travelers walk past a screening clinic for coronavirus tests in front of Seoul Station on Sept. 17, 2021, the eve of a five-day break for Chuseok, the Korean harvest holiday that falls on Sept. 21 this year. South Korea's daily coronavirus cases exceeded 2,000 the same day amid concerns the holiday, when tens of millions of people are expected to travel across the country, may cause further upticks in virus cases. (Yonhap)

South Korea reported 1,570 cases as of 6 p.m. Saturday, down by 73 from the same time the previous day.

This ensures that the streak of over 1,000 cases will be extended to 75 days. Daily cases are counted until midnight and announced the following morning.

Health authorities remain on high alert as the spread of the virus could further expand in other regions after the five-day Chuseok holiday running from Saturday through Wednesday, when a huge number of people will travel across the country.

The authorities urged people to minimize travel and gatherings during the holiday. They also plan to enforce special quarantine measures, including running COVID-19 testing clinics at highway rest stops, for two weeks through Sept. 26.

South Korea earlier said it will maintain Level 4 social distancing rules, the highest of its four-tier regime, for Seoul and the surrounding Gyeonggi Province, home to around half of the country's total population, and Level 3 for other regions until Oct. 3, though the government recently eased some restrictions to help struggling small stores and businesses.

Health authorities have ramped up the vaccination rate in a bid to reduce people's exposure to the virus.

As of early Saturday, 36.08 million people, or 70.3 percent of the country's population, had received their first shots of COVID-19 vaccines, and 21.93 million people, or 42.7 percent, had been fully vaccinated, the KDCA said. South Korea aims to fully vaccinate 70 percent of the population by end-October.

Over the past three days, 12,703 people have shown abnormal symptoms after getting vaccine shots, including nausea, headaches and fever. The KDCA also reported 32 people have died after receiving shots, though any link with their vaccination remains unproved.

Heavy traffic clogs the southbound lanes on the Gyeongbu Expressway, which links Seoul to Busan, in southern Seoul on Sept. 17, 2021, the eve of a five-day break for Chuseok, the Korean harvest holiday that falls on Sept. 21 this year. (Yonhap)

Of the newly confirmed domestic cases, 700 cases came from Seoul, 665 from Gyeonggi Province and 145 cases from the western port city of Incheon, the KDCA said.

Busan, the country's second-largest city, added 49 cases, while the southeastern city of Daegu reported 71 more cases.

Imported cases, which include South Korean nationals, came to 40, with the total number of imported cases standing now at 14,123.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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