Yonhap News Agency Go to Contents Go to Navigation

(LEAD) New virus cases in 500s for 4th day in sign of downturn in infections

Time of publication09:44 January 15, 2021

기사 본문 인쇄 및 글자 확대/축소

(ATTN: UPDATES with more info throughout)

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.

A medical worker waits for visitors to come for coronavirus tests at a makeshift clinic at the plaza in front of Seoul City Hall on Jan. 14, 2021. (Yonhap)
A medical worker waits for visitors to come for coronavirus tests at a makeshift clinic at the plaza in front of Seoul City Hall on Jan. 14, 2021. (Yonhap)

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.

Of the locally transmitted cases, the capital city of Seoul accounted for 122 cases, and the surrounding Gyeonggi Province took up 180. Incheon, west of Seoul, had 23 new cases. The greater Seoul area accounts for around half of the nation's 51 million population.

Outside of greater Seoul, the southeastern port city of Busan reported 45 additional cases and South Gyeongsang Province and North Gyeongsang Province each added 21 cases.

Among the confirmed cases, 29 were imported from abroad, slightly up from 28 a day earlier.

South Korea added 22 more deaths Friday, raising the total caseload to 1,217, the KDCA said.

The number of seriously or critically ill COVID-19 patients came to 374, down six from a day earlier.

The fatality rate came to 1.71 percent.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries was up 764 from the previous day to reach 56,536.