S. Korea to Lower COVID-19 Infection Level to Same Category as Seasonal Flu


South Korea is set to reduce the infection level of COVID-19 to the same category as seasonal flu, allowing for a return to pre-pandemic life with few virus restrictions, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) announced Wednesday.

The decision follows a decrease in new infections last week, with a daily average of 40,400 reported cases for the week of Aug. 15-21, a 17.7 percent drop from the previous week.

“The spread of COVID-19, which started in the fourth week of June, has recently slowed down and turned into a decline, and the overall quarantine situation has been stabilized,” KDCA Commissioner Jee Young-mee said in a government meeting.

The new measure, which will take effect Aug. 31, will move the virus to Class 4, the lowest of the country’s infection level, and manage it within the general health care system. Other Class 4 diseases include influenza and hand, foot and mouth disease.

The government will also discontinue the daily tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases on Thursday, but will keep the mask mandate in hospitals and nursing homes, as well as provide vaccines and treatments free of charge to help minimize the burden on the public.

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