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(3rd LD) New cases stay in 1,200s for 2nd day, no signs of letup amid 4th wave of pandemic

All News 14:50 August 03, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 16-18, 21, 23-24; CHANGES photos)

SEOUL, Aug. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases stayed in the 1,200s for the second day in a row Tuesday due to fewer tests amid the fourth wave of the outbreak across the country.

The country added 1,202 COVID-19 cases, including 1,152 local infections, raising the total caseload to 201,203, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

The latest tally marked a decline from 1,442 cases Sunday and 1,219 cases Monday. Daily cases normally fall over the weekend and rise later in the week as more people get tested.

The daily caseload has remained above 1,000 since July 7 due to outbreaks centered in the greater Seoul area. It reached a peak of 1,842 on July 22.

South Korea added five additional COVID-19 deaths, raising the death toll to 2,104. The fatality rate came to 1.04 percent.

Vacationers wear protective masks at a beach in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, on Aug. 3, 2021. (Yonhap)

Authorities warn that the fourth wave of the pandemic is far from being under control, citing the growing number of travelers in the summer season and the more infectious delta variant of COVID-19 that is also straining the country's antivirus fight.

South Korea has been operating the highest antivirus curbs in the Seoul metropolitan area, which is set to run through Sunday.

The measure includes a ban on the gathering of more than two people after 6 p.m., the toughest measure ever imposed by authorities since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic here.

Areas outside the greater capital region are under Level 3, which allows gatherings of up to four people in the evening, but some regional governments have adopted Level 4 distancing measures.

Authorities have been warning they could impose tougher measures should the number of daily cases continue to rise throughout this week.

As of Tuesday morning, health authorities said more than 20 million people have received their first shots of COVID-19 vaccines since the country launched the inoculation program in late February.

Around 14 percent, or 7,182,557, were also fully vaccinated, according to the KDCA data.

Citizens receive COVID-19 vaccine shots at a gym in eastern Seoul on Aug. 3, 2021. (Yonhap)

The country has been focusing on offering vaccines to seniors and other priority groups, including medical workers and military officials.

Around 18 million people aged 18-49 will also receive their first jabs of vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna from Aug. 26 to Sept. 30, under the government's inoculation blueprint.

South Korea aims to administer a single vaccination shot to 36 million people, or 70 percent of its population, by September with hopes of reaching herd immunity in November.

Health authorities said a combined 28 million doses of Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna shots will be supplied to the country in August.

A total of 1,132 people, meanwhile, tested positive for COVID-19 even after being administered with the full-dose vaccine regimen here, casting concerns over breakthrough infections.

Authorities, however, said only eight of them were critically ill.

Of the newly confirmed domestic cases, 307 were from Seoul, 344 from the surrounding Gyeonggi Province and 46 from the western port city of Incheon.

The southeastern port city of Busan added 67 cases, and Daegu reported 37 new infections. The southern resort island of Jeju added 20 additional cases.

Major cluster infections included one tied to an office building in Yeosu, 455 kilometers south of Seoul, which has reported 96 patients so far. A total of 254 infections were traced to a taekwondo school from the central city of Daejeon.

A citizen sits in a waiting room to be monitored for potential side effects after receiving a COVID-19 jab at a gym in western Seoul on Aug. 3, 2021. (Yonhap)

The country, meanwhile, confirmed two cases of the highly transmissible delta plus variant of the novel coronavirus. It marks the first time that the country has reported the delta plus version, considered a sublineage of the delta variant that was first detected in India.

One of the patients did not have history of traveling abroad. Both patients had completed receiving AstraZeneca's vaccine.

"It is possible that the delta plus variant has already spread here," an official from the KDCA said during a daily briefing.

Imported cases, which also include South Korean nationals from overseas, came to 50.

Of the imported cases, Uzbekistan accounted for 10 cases, followed by the United States with seven and Russia with six.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries was 177,909, up 1,304 from a day earlier. This indicates 87.9 percent of the patients reported being fully cured.

The number of patients in critical condition came to 331, up five from the previous day.

South Korea has carried out 11,820,016 COVID-19 tests so far, including 47,412 the previous day.


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