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(2nd LD) New virus cases under 400 on less testing; potential resurgence still worrisome

All News 11:35 March 08, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS more info in para 11)

SEOUL, March 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases fell back below 400 on Monday apparently due to less testing over the weekend, but health authorities remained wary of a potential resurgence as outdoor activity increases due to warmer weather.

The country reported 346 more COVID-19 cases, including 335 local infections, raising the total caseload to 92,817, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

Daily infections had been above 400 for two consecutive days, with 418 cases Saturday and 416 on Sunday.

The country added eight more deaths from COVID-19, raising the total to 1,642. The fatality rate was 1.77 percent, the KDCA said.

People line up to be tested for COVID-19 at a temporary facility center in Daegu, 238 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on March 7, 2021. (Yonhap)

After peaking around late last year, the country's daily infections have steadily declined since then on the back of tougher virus curbs.

The daily tally, however, has recently remained at around 300 and 400 amid continued cluster infections that center around the greater Seoul area, home to about half of the nation's 52 million population.

Authorities have repeatedly warned that people should abide by social distancing and stay home as more and more are expected to enjoy outdoor activities during the spring season.

The greater Seoul area is currently under the Level 2 social distancing scheme, the third highest in the country's five-tier system, while other regions are placed under Level 1.5.

Private gatherings of five or more people are banned nationwide.

South Korea has tentatively decided to adopt a four-tier social distancing system that allows merchants, such as cafes and restaurants, to do business under voluntary containment efforts.

Health authorities said they will decide Friday at the earliest whether to extend or lower the current social distancing level. The current curbs, including the gathering ban, are scheduled to stay in effect until March 14.

A medical worker receives a vaccination shot at Gangnueng Asan Hospital in Gangneung, 168 kilometers east of Seoul, on March 5, 2021, in this photo provided by the hospital. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The country is also in the early stages of its vaccination campaign, which started late last month with vaccines from AstraZeneca and Pfizer.

Health authorities said a total of 316,865 people have received their first shots, with an additional 2,047 getting the jabs Sunday.

AstraZeneca's vaccine has been given to 311,583 people, while 5,282 received that of Pfizer.

The number of people reporting adverse effects after the shots came to 3,915 so far, up 226 from the previous day. The majority of them -- 223 -- were common and mild symptoms, such as headaches or fever.

Three more people died after receiving vaccinations, bringing the total to 11, although their correlation has not been proven. Authorities are currently investigating their cause.

South Korea aims to achieve herd immunity by November.

Of the 335 locally transmitted cases, 97 additional cases were reported in Seoul and 128 in Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital. Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, identified 15 new cases. The three areas, which make up the greater capital region, accounted for 71.6 percent of new local cases.

There were an additional 11 imported cases, raising the total caseload to 7,188.

The number of seriously or critically ill COVID-19 patients was 128, down six from the previous day.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries was 83,474, up 254 from a day earlier.

South Korea has carried out 6,861,809 COVID-19 tests so far, including 18,683 from the previous day.

yunhwanchae@yna.co.kr
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