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(LEAD) S. Korea's new COVID-19 cases fall to 70,000s; influenza vaccinations to start next week to tame 'twindemic' risks

All News 13:40 September 15, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with additional info in last 6 paras; ADDS photo; Moves para 7)

SEOUL, Sept. 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new COVID-19 cases fell to the 70,000 range Thursday amid a moderate declining trend, but health authorities remain concerned over a possible "twindemic" -- a simultaneous outbreak of COVID-19 and the seasonal influenza.

The country reported 71,471 new COVID-19 infections, including 352 cases from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 24,264,470, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

Thursday's tally is a drop of over 20,000 from 93,981 the previous day but still exceeded the past seven-day average of 57,141. Daily infections have slowed after peaking at 180,746 on Aug. 17 in the latest virus resurgence.

The country added 72 COVID-19 deaths, up 12 from the previous day, raising the death toll to 27,665. The fatality rate stood at 0.11 percent.

The number of critically ill patients stood at 49, down by 16 from the previous day.

Of the 71,119 locally transmitted cases, Seoul reported 11,808 new cases, and Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital added 18,856 infections. Incheon, a port city 27 kilometers west of Seoul, identified 4,184 new cases.

Health authorities remain concerned that a possible twindemic could come as early as this fall amid an unusual spike in the number of flu patients since July this year.

The KDCA said it will begin administering seasonal flu shots to high-risk groups -- children aged 6 months through 13 years old, pregnant mothers and seniors over 65 -- starting next Wednesday at some 20,000 hospitals and medical facilities nationwide.

Children, who have never received a flu vaccine, must receive two doses for protection, health authorities added.

Meanwhile, 1.61 million doses of Moderna booster shots targeting SARS-COV-2 and the BA.1 Omicron variant are scheduled to arrive in the remainder of the week, following the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety's green light to import the vaccines.

The Moderna vaccine is used as a booster shot in the European Union, Britain, Switzerland and Australia.

With the introduction of the Moderna booster shot, the KDCA said South Korea will provide leftover stockpiles of COVID-19 vaccines to other countries.

Since last year, South Korea has donated about 5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to nine countries.

This undated rendered image shows a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (Yonhap)

This undated rendered image shows a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (Yonhap)


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