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(LEAD) New virus cases back below 500 on fewer tests; tougher curbs under review amid potential upticks

All News 09:47 April 05, 2021

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SEOUL, April 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases fell back below 500 after six days on Monday on fewer tests over the weekend, but health authorities warned of enhanced social distancing rules amid growing concerns over a new wave of the pandemic.

The country reported 473 more COVID-19 cases, including 449 local infections, raising the total caseload to 105,752, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

The daily caseload has been hovering above 500 since Wednesday.

The country added four more deaths from COVID-19, increasing the total to 1,748. The fatality rate came to 1.65 percent.

South Korea has been under the third wave of infections since mid-November last year, peaking at a record high of 1,241 on Dec. 25.

Although the virus curve has flattened since then, the country has been experiencing sporadic cluster infections nationwide from various locations ranging from office buildings and restaurants to religious facilities.

Worshipers wait in lines at a church in western Seoul to participate in Easter Mass amid the pandemic on April 4, 2021. (Yonhap)

The greater Seoul area, home to half of the country's 51.7 million population, is currently under the Level 2 social distancing rules, effective until April 11. The rest of the country is under Level 1.5.

But authorities said that the country may have to adopt tougher distancing rules if the daily new cases do not show a significant letup, warning that the figure may jump over 1,000 if the current situation continues.

South Korea is especially concerned as more people are expected to travel across the nation over the spring season, with the spread of more transmissible variants straining the antivirus fight as well.

Since the country started its vaccination program on Feb. 26, a total of 962,730 people have been given COVID-19 vaccine shots, including 629 the previous day.

AstraZeneca's vaccine has been given to 856,006 people, while 106,724 received that of Pfizer.

The KDCA said 27,364 people have received two doses.

A total of 10,997 cases of side effects after vaccinations have been reported, but 98.6 percent were mild symptoms, including muscle pain and fever.

A total of 32 deaths after vaccinations have been reported, according to the KDCA.

South Korea aims to achieve herd immunity by November.

Of the locally transmitted cases, Seoul reported 149 new cases, and Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital city identified 108 new patients. The southern port city of Busan reported 46 more cases.

The number of new imported cases came to 24, raising the total to 7,703.

Of the imported cases, the United States accounted for seven, followed by the Philippines with five. India accounted for two cases as well.

The number of patients with serious symptoms across the country reached 97, down two from the previous day, the KDCA said.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries moved up 311 to 96,900. This indicates around 91.6 percent of the patients reported here being cured.

South Korea has carried out 7,868,820 COVID-19 tests so far, including 19,344 the previous day.

Spectators enjoy a baseball match while keeping a distance from one another at a stadium in southern Seoul on April 4, 2021. (Yonhap)

colin@yna.co.kr
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