(ATTN: UPDATES with additional info in para 6)
SEOUL, Aug. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new daily COVID-19 cases declined for the third straight day Saturday but remained above the 100,000 level for the fifth day in a row amid the fast spread of the omicron variant.
The country added 124,592 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total caseload to 21,236,355, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said. Of the new cases, 480 were from overseas.
The daily tally marked a fall from 128,714 the previous day, but it was higher than the 110,632 a week earlier.
The number of seriously ill patients also increased to 469, up 16 from the previous day.
The KDCA reported 67 new deaths from COVID-19, up nine from Friday and the highest since May 8, raising the death toll to 25,566. Of the deceased 67, 41 were in their 80s and 20 in their 70s. The fatality rate was 0.12 percent.
As of 9 p.m. Saturday, the country had reported 116,030 additional cases, down 3,042 from the same time the previous day, according to health authorities and provincial governments. Daily virus cases are counted until midnight and announced the following morning.
The country's daily COVID-19 cases have been on a gradual downturn after peaking at around 620,000 in mid-March. But infections have shown signs of spiking again since authorities lifted almost all anti-pandemic curbs in April, apparently due to increased movement and public gatherings.
In the first 13 days in August, the number of new infections stayed over the 100,000 threshold except for only two days, sharply higher than the 9,000-41,000 range from a month ago.
Health authorities said virus cases may peak at around 200,000 this month but remained wary of a further uptick due to the impact of increased outdoor activities during the summer vacation season.
Imported COVID-19 cases have continued to rise in August, after South Korea relaxed entry restrictions for overseas travelers and resumed international flights. Daily imported cases hit a record high of 615 on Wednesday and have stayed over 400 cases this month.
Of the locally transmitted cases, Seoul identified 21,859 cases, with the surrounding Gyeonggi Province reporting 31,123 cases.
There were 6,108 infections in Incheon, 27 kilometers west of Seoul. The three areas accounted for 47.4 percent of the total infection cases.
Memorials commemorating Itaewon crowd crush to be erected at accident site
S. Korea, U.S. hold joint anti-terrorism exercise
(Asiad) S. Korea wins gold in League of Legends competition; Faker tops podium
(LEAD) Expressway traffic congestion persists on 2nd day of extended Chuseok holiday
Traffic heavy on expressways following Chuseok
(News Focus) No parcel day: Why S. Korean delivery workers are taking a day off on Aug. 14
Advertising controversy grips S. Korean mukbang YouTubers
Seoul's last-ditch home supply plan still in doubt over its viability
Korean foodmakers ramp up overseas push amid COVID-19 pandemic
Bumpy road lies ahead for Samsung, even after heir avoids detention