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(LEAD) New virus cases under 500, S. Korea set to unveil new social distancing scheme

National 10:02 June 20, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 4, 14-19)

SEOUL, June 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new coronavirus cases stayed below 500 for the second consecutive day Sunday due to fewer tests carried out over the weekend, with health authorities set to unveil revised social distancing guidelines later in the day.

The country reported 429 new cases, including 380 local infections, raising the total caseload to 151,149, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

South Korea found 507 new cases Friday and 482 on Saturday.

The country added five COVID-19 deaths, raising the death toll to 2002. The fatality rate came to 1.32 percent.

South Korea is expected to unveil its new social distancing scheme, which will go into effect July 5, later in the day. It will center on allowing businesses to stay open longer and permit gatherings of more people.

The move came as health authorities gained confidence from the country's accelerating vaccination drive.

A senior citizen receives a COVID-19 vaccine shot at a makeshift clinic in western Seoul on June 17, 2021. (Yonhap)

Currently, the greater Seoul area is under Level 2 distancing in the five-level scheme, while the rest of the country is under Level 1.5. Private gatherings of five or more are banned nationwide. The current rules are set to expire July 4.

Health authorities earlier hinted that under the envisioned four-tier system, restaurants and cafes in the capital area will be permitted to operate until midnight, an extension from the current restrictions of 10 p.m.

So far, the country has completed the inoculation of 4.04 million people, or 7.9 percent of the country's 52-million population.

A total of 15 million people, or 29.2 percent, have also received at least their first shots of COVID-19 vaccines.

The country aims to inoculate 36 million, or around 70 percent of the population, with at least one jab by September to achieve herd immunity in November.

The number of patients in serious or critical condition came to 146, down five from the previous day.

Of the newly confirmed locally transmitted cases, 152 came from Seoul and 111 from Gyeonggi Province.

Incheon, located 40 kilometers west of Seoul, added 19 cases as well.

The southeastern port city of Busan added 14 new patients, and Daegu, 302 km southeast of Seoul, found 15 more cases.

The KDCA counted 49 more imported cases, raising the tally to 9,528.

Of the imported cases, Indonesia accounted for 15, followed by Cambodia with five cases.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries was 142,899, up 514 from a day earlier.

South Korea has carried out 10.3 million COVID-19 tests so far, including 12,480 the previous day.


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