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(LEAD) New virus cases under 30,000 for 3rd day amid waning virus wave

National 10:01 October 02, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details throughout; ADDS photos)
By Kim Soo-yeon

SEOUL, Oct. 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new COVID-19 cases stayed below 30,000 for the third straight day Sunday as the virus wave has been gradually slowing down, coupled with fewer tests over the extended weekend.

The country reported 23,597 new COVID-19 infections, including 246 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 24,819,611, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

The tally was down from the 28,497 reported Friday and 26,960 Saturday. It was also the lowest in 12 weeks for any virus count announced Sunday.

This photo, taken Sept. 30, 2022, shows a COVID-19 testing center for international arrivals at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul. On Oct. 1, South Korea lifted a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing requirement for inbound travelers on the first day of their arrival, the last remaining antivirus restrictions for international arrivals. (Yonhap)

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

The fall in the virus count Sunday is also attributable to less testing over the extended weekend that includes the Oct. 3 National Foundation Day.

The country reported 44 more deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday, raising the death toll to 28,489.

The number of critically ill patients came to 353, down three from a day earlier, the KDCA said.

Amid the subsiding virus wave, South Korea has further relaxed antivirus measures to support people's return to pre-pandemic normalcy.

On Saturday, the country lifted a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing requirement for inbound travelers on the first day of their arrival, the last remaining antivirus restrictions for international arrivals.

Health authorities also decided to allow in-person visits at nursing homes and senior care hospitals starting Tuesday. Since July, such visits have been banned to prevent mass infections among high-risk groups.

Last week, the government lifted all outdoor mask mandates but decided to keep rules for indoor mask wearing in place for the time being on the possibility of a "twindemic" of COVID-19 and the seasonal influenza this winter.

This photo, taken Sept. 28, 2022, shows citizens waiting to receive COVID-19 tests at a testing center in western Seoul. (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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