(ATTN: ADDS latest tally in 6th para)
SEOUL, May 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new COVID-19 cases fell to around 28,000 on Thursday, continuing the modest decline as the omicron spread has been slowing for weeks.
The country added 28,130 new COVID-19 infections, including 15 cases from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 17,889,849, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
Thursday's tally marks a further fall from 31,352 and 35,117 counted for Tuesday and Monday, respectively. Daily infection numbers have stayed in the 10,000-50,000 range this month after hitting six digits in March and April at the height of the worst omicron wave.
The KDCA added 40 deaths from COVID-19, putting the total at 23,842, with the fatality rate standing at 0.13 percent, the KDCA said.
The number of critically ill patients dropped to 274 from 313 the previous day.
As of 9 p.m. on Thursday, the country had reported 24,554 new infections, down 2,219 from the same time a day earlier, according to local governments and health authorities. Daily cases are counted until midnight and announced the following morning.
Health authorities will announce later this week the next steps for post-pandemic plans, including whether it will lift the seven-day quarantine mandate for confirmed COVID-19 patients, although it is predicted they might push back the plan for some time.
Officials are believed to share the view that relaxing more virus curbs would be premature, considering the continuing omicron spread and possibility of another variant outbreak.
South Korea has eased most of COVID-19 related restrictions, such as the cap on private gatherings and business hour curfews, as the virus curve began to head downward amid high vaccination rates.
The KDCA said an additional 2.04 million doses of Pfizer vaccines will arrive in South Korea later in the day, which will raise the total amount of vaccines delivered here to 20.58 million doses this year to date.
The government secured a total of 160.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines this year, with those made by Pfizer accounting for 60 million doses, followed by Moderna's 28.47 million doses and Novavax's 40 million doses, among others.
As of midnight Wednesday, 44.56 million, or 86.8 percent of the population, had completed the full two-dose vaccinations, and 33.24 million, representing 64.8 percent, had received their first booster shots. A total of 3.65 million people had gotten their second booster shots, the KDCA said.
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