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(LEAD) New virus cases surely on downward trend, no additional death reported

All News 10:52 April 24, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; ADDS details throughout, photo)

SEOUL, April 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported another single-digit number of new coronavirus cases with no death Friday, apparently on the back of a strict social distancing campaign and enhanced quarantine measures.

The country added six new COVID-19 cases, bringing the nation's total infections to 10,708, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The country reported a single-digit increase in new infections Sunday for the first time in two months at eight, followed by 13 cases the following day, nine on Tuesday, 15 on Wednesday and eight on Thursday.

The figure marks a sharp drop from the Feb. 29 peak of 909 new cases. The country confirmed its first COVID-19 infection on Jan. 20.

Catholics wait in line while maintaining social distancing to join Mass at Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul on April 23, 2020. The church reopened for Mass as the government eased social distancing rules amid the persistent slowing of new coronavirus infections. (Yonhap)

The nation's death toll from the respiratory disease remained unchanged at 240, the authorities said. It marks the first time in a month that the country reported no single death.

The average fatality rate reached 2.24 percent. The figure, however, reached 23.5 percent for patients in their 80s and above.

Of the six cases detected, two were tentatively sorted as imported cases, according to the KCDC.

Despite the looming signs of a slowdown locally, health authorities said they remain wary of the continued rise in imported cases.

The total number of cases coming in from abroad reached 1,021 on Friday, with South Korean nationals taking up around 92 percent of such cases, according to the KCDC.

The figure accounts for nearly 10 percent of the total confirmed cases, it said.

In total, 8,501 virus patients in South Korea have been discharged from hospitals, up 90 from a day earlier.

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

A teacher gives her student a paper bag containing national academic assessment test papers via drive-thru distribution at Yeouido Girls' High School in Seoul on April 24, 2020, amid the COVID-19 crisis. (Yonhap)

With its monthlong social distancing drive, South Korea avoided the worst-case scenario despite being one of the first countries hit hard by the virus that originated from China.

While health authorities remain wary of another wave of COVID-19 infections, the country is slowly moving to lift some of its social distancing regulations this week, giving the go-ahead for some facilities, including gyms.

The country, however, said overall social distancing is still in force until May 5, and it is considering moving toward so-called everyday life quarantine after the date if the number of cases continues to plateau.


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