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(LEAD) S. Korea reaches grim milestone of 30,000 COVID-19 deaths

Health 10:27 November 20, 2022

(ATTN: ADDS more details in paras 3-5, 11)

SEOUL, Nov. 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea surpassed the milestone of 30,000 COVID-19 deaths Sunday as the country is bracing for another virus wave in winter.

The country reported 41 COVID-19 deaths earlier in the day, raising the death toll to 30,031, almost three years after it reported a first confirmed COVID-19 case in January 2020, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

The country's accumulated COVID-19 deaths surpassed 10,000 in March this year, and it took only about a month for the figure to rise above 20,000 amid the fast spread of the highly contagious omicron variant. South Korea reported its first COVID-19 death in February 2020.

As of mid-November, the country ranked 35th in terms of accumulated COVID-19 deaths. The number of deaths out of every 1 million people came to 577.53, lower than the world's average of 829.77, according to Our World in Data, a research and data website.

The fatality rate stood at 0.11 percent.

On Sunday, the country reported 46,011 new COVID-19 infections, including 57 cases from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 26,558,765, the KDCA said.

Sunday's count was slightly down from the previous day's 50,589 and was down by around 2,000 from a week ago.

But the number of critically ill patients grew to the highest level in about two months of 451, up 32 from the previous day.

Earlier this month, the KDCA said a new wave of infections appeared to have begun in earnest, and the daily infections could surge to around 200,000 as early as December.

In response, the government has been working to better protect vulnerable groups by enhancing monitoring and expanding vaccination and medication programs, rather than reimposing antivirus steps.

Experts have warned that daily deaths are feared to grow to around 150 to 200 in case of a virus resurgence in winter, given the current low vaccination rate, urging elderly citizens and other vulnerable groups, in particular, to receive a booster shot.

A medical worker sits at a makeshift COVID-19 testing station in Seoul on Nov. 18, 2022. (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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