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New virus cases back under 600; distancing rules extended for 3 weeks

All News 09:31 June 11, 2021

SEOUL, June 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's daily new virus cases fell back to below 600 on Friday, but health authorities decided to extend the current social distancing rules for another three weeks before adopting revamped antivirus measures.

The country reported 556 more COVID-19 cases, including 541 local infections, raising the total caseload to 146,859 the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

Daily virus cases stayed in the 400s on Monday and Tuesday but spiked to the 600 range on Wednesday and Thursday.

Daily caseloads here have been going through some ups and downs between the 400s and 700s in recent months with no significant signs of a letup due to sporadic cluster infections nationwide.

The country added two more deaths, raising the death toll to 1,981. The fatality rate was 1.35 percent.

Citizens wait to receive COVID-19 vaccine shots at a hospital in Seoul on June 10, 2021. (Yonhap)

Health authorities said the current distancing rules will be extended until July 4. Currently, the greater Seoul area is under the Level 2 distancing in the five-level scheme, while the rest of the country is under Level 1.5 along with the ban of private gatherings of five or more people.

Under the new scheme, which is set to be introduced next month, the authorities plan to ease business curfews, with restaurants and entertainment facilities in greater Seoul permitted to operate until midnight, an extension from the current limit of 10 p.m.

The partly eased virus curbs came as the country's inoculation drive is gaining traction. Since the nation's vaccination scheme began in late February, around 20 percent of its 51.2 million population have received at least their first shots of COVID-19 vaccines, with about 5 percent being fully vaccinated.

South Korea is trying to inoculate 14 million people by the end of this month and 36 million by September in a move to achieve herd immunity in November, but it hopes it can reach the goal earlier than expected with the increased vaccine rollout.

In addition to vaccines from AstraZeneca and Pfizer, the country started to use the Janssen vaccine supplied by the U.S. government for reserve forces, civil defense members and others in charge of defense and foreign affairs from Thursday.

Health authorities said the Moderna vaccine is expected to be available for inoculation next week.

A health worker gives a COVID-19 vaccine shot to a citizen at a hospital in Seoul on June 10, 2021. (Yonhap)

Of the 541 newly locally transmitted cases, 201 came from Seoul, 172 from Gyeonggi Province and 17 from Incheon, 40 kilometers west of the capital.

The southeastern port city of Busan, the country's second-largest city, reported 25 more cases.

There were 15 additional imported cases, down two from a day earlier, raising the total to 9,252.

The KDCA data showed the number of seriously or critically ill COVID-19 patients was 153, down one from the previous day.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries was 137,224, up 511 from a day earlier, with 7,654 people being isolated for COVID-19 treatment, up 43 from a day ago.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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