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New cases slightly over 1,600; concerns grow over further spread after Chuseok holiday

09:40 September 20, 2021

SEOUL, Sept. 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's daily coronavirus cases fell to around 1,600 on Monday due to fewer tests over the weekend, but concerns have grown further over a surge in infections after the Chuseok holiday amid the fast spread of the virus in the greater Seoul area, officials said.

The country reported an additional 1,605 COVID-19 cases, including 1,577 local infections, raising the total caseload to 287,536, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

It was the second straight day the daily caseload fell under 2,000, but the latest figure marked the country's highest ever figure for Sundays ever, the KDCA data showed. The daily tally is counted until midnight and announced the following morning.

The country added five more deaths from COVID-19 in the day, raising the death toll to 2,409. The fatality rate was 0.84 percent.

The fourth wave of the pandemic, which began in July in earnest, has not shown signs of letting up, with the daily caseload staying above 1,000 for 76 consecutive days on Monday amid the fast spread of the more transmissible delta variant nationwide.

A medical worker conducts a COVID-19 test at a makeshift testing station in Gwangju on Sept. 19, 2021. (Yonhap)

Of the total caseload reported Monday, around 75 percent were from Seoul and the surrounding metropolitan regions.

Health authorities remain on high alert as the virus could spread in non-capital regions in a fast manner after the five-day break for Chuseok, the Korean harvest holiday, set to run through Wednesday, when a large number of people usually travel across the nation.

Earlier this month, the government extended the highest social distancing rules of Level 4 for Seoul and the surrounding Gyeonggi Province, and Level 3 for other regions until Oct. 3.

But it eased some restrictions, allowing a family gathering of up to eight people on the conditions that four of them are fully vaccinated, for example. Instead, it has been enforcing special quarantine steps, such as running makeshift test centers at major bus terminals and train stations to continue to ensure a thorough diagnosis system.

Heavy traffic clogs the southbound lanes on the Gyeongbu Expressway, which links Seoul to Busan, in the city of Osan, Gyeonggi Province, on Sept. 18, 2021, as many people hit the road during the Chuseok holiday. (Yonhap)


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