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(LEAD) With lax social distancing in store, virus curve flattens for days

All News 10:50 April 28, 2020

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SEOUL, April 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported fewer than 15 cases of the new coronavirus for the 10th day in a row Tuesday, with the upcoming holidays set to be crucial in whether the country can go ahead with a lax social distancing drive next week.

The country reported 14 new virus cases, bringing the nation's total infections to 10,752, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

Health authorities, however, warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is still "persisting" in the country amid the rising number of imported cases and concerns over cluster infections.

Of the newly added cases announced Tuesday, 12 were imported, raising the country's total number of such cases to 1,056.

The nation's death toll from COVID-19 rose by one to 244.

Medical workers prepare to work a shift at Keimyung University Daegu Dongsan Hospital, where coronavirus patients are hospitalized, in the southeastern city of Daegu on April 27, 2020. (Yonhap)

The fatality rate came to 2.27 percent, with victims aged 80 and above accounting for more than half of the reported deaths.

No deaths were reported among those aged 29 and below, though the age group accounted for a third of confirmed patients.

In total, 8,854 people in South Korea have recovered from the virus, up 90 from a day earlier. More than 80 percent of the COVID-19 patients have been cured.

Daegu, the nation's worst virus-hit region located 300 kilometers south of Seoul, added just two cases. The city accounts for 64 percent of the nation's total COVID-19 cases.

South Korea has carried out 608,514 tests for the coronavirus since Jan. 3, including 6,854 tests carried out a day earlier. The country reported its first COVID-19 case on Jan. 20.

Cheerleaders perform during a baseball practice event at a stadium without any spectators in Gwangju, about 330 kilometers south of Seoul, on April 27, 2020. (Yonhap)

Local health authorities remain vigilant ahead of the upcoming long holiday, when a large number of people are expected to make short domestic trips.

South Korea will celebrate Buddha's Birthday on Thursday, followed by May Day on Friday and Children's Day on May 5.

Authorities have been urging South Koreans to refrain from making group tours during the holiday, saying this week will play a decisive role in paving the way for the country to move on to an "everyday life quarantine" in May.

The country nevertheless has been gradually easing social distance guidelines in sync with the falling number of new COVID-19 cases.

It plans to announce new guidelines for schools by early May, with options that include having students come to school at different times.

colin@yna.co.kr
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