(ATTN: UPDATES with detailed figures in paras 2-4)
Last week, South Korea’s new coronavirus cases dropped for the first time in two months, according to government data released on Monday. This encouraging news has allowed health authorities to resume plans to lift all virus restrictions.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported an average of 40,400 new infections for the week of August 15-21, which is a 17.7 percent decrease from the previous week’s figure of 49,000.
The number of COVID-19 related deaths also decreased by 11 percent to 130.
“The summer wave has entered a downside cycle after a seven-week rally, and the epidemic is slowing,” a KDCA official said.
The KDCA is now planning to announce its road map to return to pre-pandemic normalcy, which includes measures to lower the disease level of COVID-19 by two notches and remove all mask mandates at hospitals and nursing homes.
The plan was originally set to be released in early August, but was delayed due to the recent surge in infections.
A medical worker takes a sample from a citizen at a makeshift COVID-19 testing station in Seoul on Aug. 20, 2023. (Yonhap)