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(LEAD) S. Korea's new COVID-19 cases fall below 30,000 amid waning virus wave

All News 11:38 September 30, 2022

(ATTN: ADDS more details, comments in paras 4-7, 11-14)

SEOUL, Sept. 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new COVID-19 cases fell below 30,000 on Friday, as the virus wave has been gradually slowing down in recent weeks.

The country reported 28,497 new COVID-19 infections, including 276 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 24,769,101, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

The daily count grew to nearly 40,000 on Tuesday from around the 20,000 level but has since been constantly decreasing. The comparable figure for a week earlier came to 29,097.

It also marked the fewest daily infections for any Friday since July 8.

The virus wave, triggered by the spread of a highly contagious omicron variant, has been on a decline since mid-August, when it peaked at above 180,000 cases.

The country reported 42 deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, raising the death toll to 28,406.

The number of critically ill patients came to 352, down by 11 from a day earlier. It is the lowest number since Aug. 8, when the country saw 324 serious virus patients.

A makeshift COVID-19 testing station in Seoul remains empty on Sept. 28, 2022. (Yonhap)

A makeshift COVID-19 testing station in Seoul remains empty on Sept. 28, 2022. (Yonhap)

As the virus wave has subsided, the government has eased antivirus measures to better support people's return to normalcy.

Starting Saturday, the country will remove a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing requirement for inbound travelers on the first day of their arrival.

Currently, a PCR test is a must for inbound travelers within the first 24 hours of their entry into the country.

The planned removal means that the country will have eliminated all antivirus restrictions regarding inbound travelers.

The government also decided to allow in-person visits at nursing homes, senior care hospitals and other related facilities starting Oct. 4, which have been banned since July to prevent mass infections among high-risk groups.

Earlier this week, the government also lifted all outdoor mask mandates, though it has sought measures to better protect high-risk and other vulnerable groups on the possibility of a "twindemic" of COVID-19 and the seasonal influenza this winter.

"We are in the final stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. We expect another wave in winter, but we will finally overcome the virus through thorough preparations," Second Vice Health Minister Lee Ki-il told a virus response meeting.

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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