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(LEAD) S. Korea's virus cases stay in single-digit, with no new local infections

All News 10:31 May 02, 2020

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

SEOUL, May 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea recorded fewer than 10 new daily coronavirus infections for the fourth day in a row Saturday, giving a green light for the country's plan to loosen some of social-distancing guidelines in coming days.

The six new daily infections increased the total number of cases to 10,780, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). The daily figure peaked on Feb. 29 at 909.

With clear signs of a slowdown in the number of people infected locally, South Korea is vigilant of imported cases.

All new cases announced Saturday were imported, raising the country's total number of such cases to 1,081. More than 90 percent of the patients from the imported cases were South Korean nationals.

An army conscript disinfects a classroom at an elementary school in the southeastern city of Daegu on May 1, 2020, as part of efforts to prevent coronavirus infections among children. The country is preparing for the physical reopening of schools after weeks of online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Yonhap)

Health authorities, however, are still calling for people to comply with social distancing guidelines during the holiday that runs through Tuesday.

Mass infections account for more than 80 percent of COVID-19 cases here.

The nation's death toll from the virus rose by two to 250.

The overall fatality rate reached 2.32 percent. The figure, however, reached 24.7 percent for patients in their 80s and above.

In total, 9,123 people in South Korea have recovered from the virus, up 51 from a day earlier.

Daegu, the nation's worst virus-hit region located 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, added no new cases. The city accounts for 64 percent of the nation's total COVID-19 cases.

Health authorities have carried out tests on 627,562 people since Jan. 3, including 4,493 examinations from a day earlier. The country reported its first COVID-19 case on Jan. 20.

South Korea plans to loosen the country's social distancing mandate after the holidays if the numbers remain flat until Tuesday.

The country plans to announce on Sunday whether it will move on to what it calls "everyday life quarantine," meaning schools and workplaces can go back to normal routine with some precautionary measures attached.

Health authorities, however, say that even if the country decides to ease its social-distancing drive, it does not necessarily mean that South Korea has vanquished the COVID-19 pandemic.

A second wave of infections may hit the country hard again later this year, they added.

The country also plans to beef up efforts to protect vulnerable people from the virus, with measures including delaying crackdowns against undocumented foreign migrant workers.

Workers spray disinfectant on seats at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on May 1, 2020, four days ahead of the opening of the baseball season. The season will run without spectators in an effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic. (Yonhap)

colin@yna.co.kr
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