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New infections dip to 1,500s amid concerns over post-holiday surge

Health 10:22 August 16, 2021

SEOUL, Aug. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's daily new coronavirus fell back to the 1,500s on Monday due to fewer tests over the weekend amid concerns over a spike in cases following the Liberation Day holiday.

The country added 1,556 more COVID-19 cases, including 1,493 local infections, raising the total caseload to 225,481, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

Daily infections fell from 1,817 on Sunday and 1,930 on Saturday, but the decline was attributable to less testing over the weekend.

The country added 11 more deaths from COVID-19, raising the death toll to 2,167. The fatality rate was 0.96 percent.

Police officers wearing face masks are on guard against holiday gatherings during Liberation Day on Aug. 15, 2021, amid the spreading COVID-19 pandemic. (Yonhap)

South Korea has been grappling with the fourth wave of the pandemic amid the fast spread of the more transmissible delta variant and slow vaccinations.

Despite the toughest-ever distancing rules, the number of daily virus cases has topped 1,000 for 41 days in a row. The country reported a record high 2,223 cases Wednesday.

For more than a month, the greater Seoul area, home to half of the country's 52 million people, has been under the toughest virus curbs, along with several non-capital regions.

The KDCA called on citizens to stay home during the three-day Liberation Day holiday period that ends Monday.

The health agency is reviewing more enhanced antivirus measures as the pandemic is raging across the nation despite tougher virus restrictions.

A delay in the vaccine supply by U.S. drugmaker Moderna Inc. is also complicating the country's efforts to accelerate the vaccine rollout.

Moderna has notified the government that it will be able to supply less than half of the 8.5 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine planned for August.

As of Monday, 22.38 million people, or 43.6 percent of the population, had received their first shots of COVID-19 vaccines, the KDCA said.

The number of fully vaccinated people stood at 9.74 million, or 19 percent.

The vaccine setbacks have raised doubts over the government's plan to administer the first shot to 70 percent of the population by September and achieve herd immunity by November.

Of the locally transmitted cases, Seoul reported 355 new cases, and Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital city identified 392 new patients. The southeastern port city of Busan reported 125 more cases, and Incheon, 40 km west of Seoul, added 110 cases.

The number of new imported cases came to 63, raising the total to 12,869.

The number of patients with serious symptoms across the country reached 353, down from 374 the previous day, the KDCA said.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries was 196,198, up 1,095 from a day earlier.

A restaurant has no customers in Myeongdong, central Seoul, on Aug. 15, 2021, amid the extended COVID-19 pandemic. (Yonhap)

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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