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(2nd LD) S. Korea reports single-digit new virus cases again

National 11:25 April 21, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details throughout)

SEOUL, April 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported another single-digit increase in new virus cases Tuesday in a clear sign of a slowdown in the spread of the new coronavirus, bringing the nation's total infections to 10,683.

The country detected just nine new COVID-19 infections Monday, marking the third day in a row that the country's new virus infections stayed below 15, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

Medical workers get ready for work at a hospital in central Seoul on April 21, 2020. (Yonhap)

Five of the newly added cases were imported, the data showed, raising the total number of such cases to 1,011. South Korean nationals accounted for 91.6 percent.

The country announced a single-digit number of new cases on Sunday for the first time in two months at eight, followed by 13 cases the following day.

The plateauing figures mark a drastic drop from the Feb. 29 peak of 909 new cases. The country confirmed its first COVID-19 infection on Jan. 20.

The nation's death toll from the coronavirus rose by one to 237, the authorities said.
The overall fatality rate reached 2.22 percent, with the figure at 23.4 percent for patients in their 80s.

No deaths have been reported among patients under 30, though they account for nearly 35 percent of the total infections.

Patients in their 20s were responsible for the largest number of infections among age groups at 2,928, or 27.4 percent.

In total, 8,213 virus patients in South Korea have been discharged from hospitals, up 99 from a day earlier. So far, the country has carried out tests on 571,014 people since Jan. 3.

The number of new infections continued to slow in Daegu, the nation's worst virus-hit region that accounts for around 64 percent of the total cases, with just two additional cases.

North Gyeongsang Province, which surrounds Daegu, reported no additional infections.

Seoul, the most populous city of South Korea, reported two new cases, with the surrounding Gyeonggi Province adding two new COVID-19 infections as well.

Medical workers get ready for work at a drive-thru test center in southern Seoul on April 20, 2020. (Yonhap)

Starting Monday, South Korea applied a relaxed social distancing advisory on some facilities, including gyms and cram schools, as the number of new COVID-19 infections here showed a continued downward trend.

South Korea announced it will maintain the social distancing drive until May 5, but it will ease some rules under the condition that such facilities comply with safety measures.

Starting Wednesday, South Korea will reopen public facilities with lower risks of infections, including arboretums.

Health authorities, however, said the country needs to remain vigilant over cluster infections, considering last week's general elections, where more than 29 million voters showed up at polling stations nationwide wearing face masks.

The authorities also requested that people refrain from making group tours over the upcoming long holiday, starting with Buddha's Birthday on April 30 and followed by May Day on May 1 and Children's Day on May 5.

South Korea said it will seek to slowly move toward what it calls "everyday life quarantine," starting May 6.

colin@yna.co.kr
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