(3rd LD) New COVID-19 cases stay over 2,000 for 5th straight day amid relaxed virus curbs

(ATTN: UPDATES with tally as of 6 p.m. in 5th para)
By Koh Byung-joon

SEOUL, Nov. 7 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s new coronavirus cases stayed above 2,000 for the fifth consecutive day Sunday amid worries over a resurgence of infections after the country relaxed virus curbs to gradually return to normalcy under its “living with COVID-19” scheme.

The country reported 2,224 new COVID-19 cases, including 2,204 local infections, raising the total caseload to 379,935, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

The figure is slightly down from 2,248 cases but marked the fifth straight day it has been over 2,000 since surging to 2,667 on Wednesday.

The death toll rose by 11 to 2,967, falling from the previous day’s 20. The fatality rate stands at 0.78 percent.

Later in the day, health authorities and local governments reported 1,332 new cases from midnight to 6 p.m., down 130 from the same time the previous day. The latest tally excludes cases from the country’s southeastern port city of Busan, which stopped releasing real-time data.

Health authorities are bracing for a rise in infections for the time being as people are expected to expand their outdoor activities and private gatherings under recently relaxed social distancing rules.

Last Monday, the government introduced the “living with COVID-19” scheme under which it eased social distancing rules aimed at returning to normal life in phases after the country achieved its initial target of fully vaccinating 70 percent of the population.

Currently, up to 10 people are allowed to gather in the capital area, regardless of vaccinations, though they are required to wear face masks. In phases, the ceiling on gatherings and other restrictions will be fully eliminated.

The move is intended to bring the pandemic-disrupted life and economy back to normal amid accelerating vaccinations.

As of Sunday morning, 76.6 percent of the country’s 51.3 million people have been fully vaccinated, while 80.9 percent have received their first vaccine shots, the KDCA said.

Of the new infections, Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi Province, home to about half of the country’s population, reported 848 and 703 cases, respectively. Incheon, a port city 40 kilometers west of Seoul, also reported 161 infections.

In particular, 43 more cases were reported Sunday at a hospital in Dongducheon, 40 kilometers north of Seoul, raising the total infections from patients and hospital workers there to 123, local government data showed. Currently, the hospital is in cohort isolation with coronavirus tests under way on others.

The number of critically ill COVID-19 patients came to 405, down from 411 reported a day earlier, the KDCA said.




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