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(2nd LD) New virus cases surely on downward trend, no additional death reported

All News 11:42 April 24, 2020

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

SEOUL, April 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported another single-digit number of new coronavirus cases with no deaths Friday, but health authorities again urged citizens to abide by the social distancing campaign to further contain the virus outbreak. The country also decided to use electronic wristbands on self-isolation violators starting next week.

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 government earlier announced it will make self-isolation violators wear electronic wristbands since the number of cases of people breaching the self-quarantine rules in recent weeks has raised public concerns.

Starting next Monday, violators, if giving permission, will wear wristbands for two weeks, they said. The permission is necessary as there is no legal ground to force people to wear it.

The number of people under the self-isolation measure has steadily slowed down since April 14, with the number at some 46,300 as of Thursday, the KCDC said.

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.

Still, health authorities advised the public from minimizing events, gatherings, and traveling during a holiday that starts next Thursday for a four-day period.

According to 17 guidelines of the everyday life quarantine announced by health authorities, it is essential that people remain two meters away from each other during their visits to crowded places.

Also, those who traveled overseas in the past 14 days or show symptoms, such as fever or respiratory diseases, are still not allowed to visit places, such as hotels and other entertainment locations.

khj@yna.co.kr
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