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(LEAD) New virus cases over 400 for 6th day, potential resurgence worrisome

National 10:46 March 14, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 7, 13-14, 20; photo)

SEOUL, March 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases stayed above 400 for the sixth consecutive day Sunday as health authorities struggled to bring down infections amid a nationwide vaccination campaign.

The country reported 459 more COVID-19 cases, including 436 local infections, raising the total caseload to 95,635, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

The country added two more deaths from COVID-19, increasing the total to 1,669.

The daily caseload has stayed in the 400s with 465 cases Thursday, 488 Friday and 490 Saturday, the highest since Feb. 19, stoking concerns about a virus resurgence.

The daily tally had been on the downward trend since peaking late last year on the back of strong virus curbs, including a ban on private gatherings of five or more people.

But the virus curve did not sharply flatten, with the daily caseload stuck in the 300s and 400s over the past few weeks due to sporadic cluster infections and an increase in people traveling amid warmer weather.

A health worker collects a sample from a citizen for a COVID-19 test at a makeshift virus testing clinic in Seoul on March 13, 2021. (Yonhap)

South Korea's vaccination campaign, which started Feb. 26 with workers and patients at nursing homes and medical institutions, has picked up steam, with around 1.13 percent of the country's 52 million population receiving their first jabs.

A total of 587,884 people, including 3,487 the previous day, have been inoculated.

AstraZeneca's vaccine accounted for 561,785, while Pfizer's took up 26,099.

South Korea aims to achieve herd immunity by November.

Health authorities said the country's general public will begin getting vaccinated in April, with those aged 65 and older given priority. Details of the expanded vaccination program will be announced Monday.

A total of 8,520 cases of side effects after vaccinations have been reported so far, up 198 from a day earlier, although 8,423 of them were mild symptoms.

One more suspected case of anaphylactoid reaction, which has similar symptoms to anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction after immunization, has been reported, raising the total of such cases to 73. There has been also one suspected case of anaphylaxis shock.

Health authorities are looking into 16 cases of deaths reported after vaccinations, adding that a potential causal relationship between the vaccinations and the deaths will be investigated.

So far, they have concluded that eight of the deaths appear to have no connection with the inoculations.

To further contain the virus' spread, health authorities decided to extend the current virus curb measures until March 28.

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.

The country is also working to finalize a new four-tier social distancing system by the end of this month.

Authorities say the revamped virus curbs, however, will only be implemented after the virus cases fall significantly.

Citizens wait in line at a makeshift virus testing clinic in Seoul on March 13, 2021. (Yonhap)

Of the new locally transmitted cases, 108 additional cases were reported in Seoul and 199 in Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital. Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, identified 19 new cases.

There were an additional 23 imported cases, increasing the total caseload to 7,306. Of the new imported cases, six were from the United States, followed by Pakistan with three.

The number of seriously or critically ill COVID-19 patients was 105, down seven from the previous day.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries was 87,408, up 783 from a day earlier, with 6,558 people being isolated for COVID-19 treatment, down 326 from a day ago.

South Korea has carried out 7,066,401 COVID-19 tests, including 19,619 from the previous day.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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