(ATTN: UPDATES with latest figures in paras 6-7)
SEOUL, June 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new COVID-19 cases came below 8,000 for the second consecutive day Friday, marking a moderate downtrend amid the slowing omicron wave.
The country added 7,227 new COVID-19 infections, including 111 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 18,312,993, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
Friday's tally is down from 7,497 the previous day and Wednesday's 8,992. Daily infection numbers have declined at a steady clip to stay below 10,000 since June 10, after hitting more than 620,000 in mid-March.
The KDCA reported 10 more deaths from COVID-19, raising the death toll to 24,498. The fatality rate stood at 0.13 percent.
The number of critically ill patients came to 52, down from Thursday's 58.
As of 9 p.m., the country had reported 6,400 new infections, down 447 from the same time a day earlier, according to local governments and health authorities.
Daily infections are counted until midnight and announced the following morning.
The government announced that only households whose income is below the base median income threshold will be eligible for the special allowance given to COVID-19 patients during the isolation period, starting July 11. The allowance had been paid to all regardless of income level.
"As the virus situation remains at a stable state, the government intends to maintain the measures in a sustainable manner by improving the financial support system related to the COVID-19 isolation policy," Interior Minister Lee Sang-min said at a virus response meeting.
The subsidy for paid sick leave will also be curtailed and provided only to small businesses with fewer than 30 employees.
Despite the downtrend, health authorities remain cautious that relaxed virus curbs could prompt another virus resurgence.
South Korea removed most social distancing restrictions, except the indoor mask mandate, in mid-April, but extended the self-isolation mandate for COVID-19 patients until July 17.
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