(LEAD) S. Korea reports 12,291 new COVID-19 cases: KDCA
(ATTN: UPDATES with details in last 7 paras; CHANGES photo)
SEOUL, March 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported 12,291 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday amid a gradual slowdown in the pace of infections.
The figure is slightly higher than the previous day's 10,817 cases, but 785 cases lower compared with a week ago. The virus has been spreading more slowly despite the removal of the indoor mask mandate late last month.
Of Wednesday's total, 24 cases were from overseas, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). The country added 11 deaths, bringing the death toll to 33,988, and the number of critically ill patients stood at 145, down from the previous day's 164.
The total caseload so far came to 30,526,012.
Amid the downward trend, South Korea lifted a requirement for travelers from China to take PCR tests after their arrival here Wednesday. A PCR test refers to a polymerase chain reaction test for COVID-19.
But the pre-arrival test requirement will remain in place until March 10 to monitor the effect of the eased restrictions.
On Tuesday, 129 out of 2,591 inbound travelers from China took the post-arrival test and two of the 129 foreigners who came for short-term stays tested positive, the KDCA said.
The rate of COVID-19-positive people among arrivals from China came to 1.6 percent Tuesday, far lower than the accumulated rate of 5.6 percent from Jan. 2 through Tuesday, the health agency said.
South Korea had required travelers from China to show negative COVID-19 test results before boarding flights to the country and to take an additional PCR test within the first day of their entry since early January amid a surge in COVID-19 infections in the neighboring country.
But China's situation has since stabilized and South Korea has been lifting restrictions one by one.
On Feb. 11, South Korea resumed issuing short-term visas for Chinese visitors, and China also restarted the issuance of short-term visas for South Koreans on Feb. 18.
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