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(LEAD) New COVID-19 cases down for 4th day; critical cases at over 3-month high

All News 10:18 August 14, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details throughout; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Aug. 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new COVID-19 cases dropped for the fourth straight day Sunday, but the number of seriously ill patients hit an over three-month high amid the fast spread of a highly contagious omicron subvariant.

The country added 119,603 new COVID-19 infections, including 460 cases from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 21,355,958, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

The tally is down from 128,714 on Friday and 124,592 on Saturday.

The fall is mainly attributable to less testing over the extended weekend that also includes the Aug. 15 Liberation Day.

But the figure was 1.13 times higher than 105,507 a week earlier in the latest indication that the country has seen an uptick in virus cases.

Citizens wait to receive COVID-19 tests at a state-run testing center in southern Seoul on Aug. 12, 2022. (Yonhap)

COVID-19 deaths and critical cases have been markedly increasing in line with rising new infections.

South Korea reported 57 more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 25,623, the KDCA said. The fatality rate stood at 0.12 percent.

The number of critically ill patients came to 512, up 43 from a day earlier. The reading marked the highest since the 526 tallied for April 29.

Daily COVID-19 cases had been on a downward trend after peaking at around 620,000 in mid-March. But new infections began to spike due largely to the lifting of virus curbs and the quick spread of the omicron subvariant BA.5.

Health authorities said new virus cases may peak at around 200,000 this month, but they remained cautious about a further increase of infections due to the impact of the summer vacation season.

Imported COVID-19 cases have stayed above 400 in August after South Korea relaxed entry restrictions for overseas travelers and resumed international flights. New cases from overseas hit a record high of 615 on Wednesday.

Of the locally transmitted cases reported Sunday, Seoul reported 19,591 new cases and Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital added 29,193 new infections. Incheon, 27 kilometers west of Seoul, identified 5,962 more cases.

This photo, provided by SK Bioscience Co. on Aug. 11, 2022, shows researchers checking SKYCovione, the country's first homegrown COVID-19 vaccine developed by SK Bioscience. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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