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(LEAD) S. Korea's new COVID-19 cases back above 20,000 in 1 1/2 months

All News 10:47 July 09, 2022

(ATTN: ADDS more info from 6th para, photo)

SEOUL, July 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new coronavirus cases bounced back above 20,000 for the first time in 45 days Saturday, putting authorities on alert over a possible uptick amid the summer vacation season.

The country added 20,286 new COVID-19 infections, including 223 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 18,491,435, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

Saturday's tally is up 963 from the previous day and nearly double the 10,712 reported a week ago. It also marks the first time the daily tally has surpassed 20,000 since May 25.

The country added 19 COVID-19 deaths, raising the death toll to 24,624. The fatality rate stood at 0.13 percent.

The number of critically ill patients fell by one to 61, the KDCA said.

People stand in line to take coronavirus tests at a screening clinic in Seoul's Songpa Ward on July 7, 2022. South Korea's new coronavirus cases stayed above 18,000 for the third straight day, as the nation embarks on the summer vacation season amid the eased social distancing restrictions. (Yonhap)

The country's case curve hit a peak in mid-March with more than 621,000 cases. The KDCA has said the pace of decline has recently slowed down amid waning immunity and eased social distancing rules.

On Friday, South Korean health authorities said the country is undergoing a new wave of COVID-19, citing the fast spread of the highly contagious mutation of the omicron strain.

Authorities said the spreading BA.5, a subvariant of the COVID-19 omicron variant, is more infectious than the earlier mutations and allegedly resistant to the immunity from previous COVID-19 infections.

South Korea is set to introduce a tighter plan to contain the COVID-19 resurgence by next week.

Of the 20,063 locally transmitted cases reported Saturday, Seoul accounted for 4,897 cases, with the surrounding Gyeonggi Province reporting 5,595 cases and Incheon logging 1,011 infections. The three areas accounted for 57.2 percent of all local infection cases.

This photo, provided by the Gwangju Bukgu County Office on July 8, 2022, shows a medical worker holding plastic tubes of COVID-19 specimens as South Korean health authorities announced the country is confronting "another wave" of COVID-19 infections. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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