SEOUL, Jan. 15 (Yonhap) -- The number of new coronavirus cases in South Korea stayed in the 500s for the fourth consecutive day Friday, in a sign that the third wave of the pandemic has slowed down following a peak on the back of monthlong tougher virus curbs.
The country added 513 more COVID-19 cases, including 484 local infections, raising the total caseload to 71,241, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
Friday's daily number marked a slight drop from 524 posted a day earlier, the KDCA said.
The country's new virus cases reached a peak of 1,241 on Dec. 25, and daily figures had continued to breach the 1,000 threshold multiple times.
To cope with the soaring number of COVID-19 cases, health authorities have adopted the so-called Level 2.5 social distancing scheme, the second highest in the country's five-tier scheme, in the greater Seoul area since Dec. 8.
An average of 555 COVID-19 patients occurred over the past week, with an average of 523 local infections, the KDCA said. Level 2.5 is imposed when daily new cases continue to surpass 400-500 nationwide or the number of patients doubles from the previous day.
The relatively moderate Level 2 social distancing policy has also been implemented in other parts of the country.
The tightened measures will run through Sunday, and health authorities will decide on Saturday whether to maintain the current curbs or lower them.
Health authorities are expected ease restrictions on the so-called high-risk facilities, including gyms, karaoke establishments and cram schools, amid concerns over the impact on business.
However, the authorities are expected to keep intact the current ban on gatherings of five or more people. The regulation was implemented in the greater Seoul area since Dec. 24 and other regions from Jan. 4.
South Korea added 22 more deaths Friday, raising the total caseload to 1,217, the KDCA said.