New cases fall below 2,000; post-holiday infections in the spotlight
The country added 1,943 cases of COVID-19, including 1,921 local infections, bringing the total number of cases to 279,930, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
The latest number of cases was down from 2,080 the previous day.
Daily cases have remained above the 1,000 threshold for more than two months amid the rapid spread of the most transmissible delta variant nationwide.
The country added six more deaths from COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 2,386. The death rate was 0.85%.
Infections in the greater Seoul area, home to half of the country’s population, have been a challenge for the country’s virus control, with 80% of national cases reported in Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon .
Authorities are bracing for possible hikes after the Chuseok holiday, Korea’s fall harvest celebration, when tens of millions of people are expected to travel across the country. South Koreans will have a five-day vacation period from Saturday to Wednesday.
They will apply special quarantine measures, including holding COVID-19 testing clinics at highway rest areas, for two weeks until September 26, urging people to stay home and get vaccinated.
Authorities previously extended current social distancing measures – level 4 in the greater Seoul area, which is the highest in the four-tier system, and level 3 in other areas – for an additional four weeks until October 3.
While limiting the size of private gatherings and the opening hours of restaurants, authorities have relaxed some restrictions to leave room for maneuver for those vaccinated.
A total of 34.97 million people, or 68.1% of the country’s population, have received their first COVID-19 vaccines, and 21.16 million people, or 41.2%, have been fully vaccinated , KDCA said.
South Korea’s COVID-19 vaccination program uses vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Janssen.
Authorities said a 70 percent first-line vaccination rate is expected to be reached this week. The country aims to achieve collective immunity in November.
Among the newly confirmed national cases, 717 cases were from Seoul, 652 from surrounding Gyeonggi Province and 137 cases from the western port city of Incheon.
Busan, the country’s second-largest city, added 56 cases, while the southeastern city of Daegu reported 47 more cases.
Imported cases, which include South Korean nationals, stand at 22. The total number of imported cases now stands at 14,049.
The number of patients with severe symptoms across the country reached 348, down two from the previous day.
The total number of people released from quarantine after fully recovering was 252,038, up 2,205 from the previous day. (Yonhap)