South Korea new virus cases below 20,000 amid waning virus wave

South  Korea new virus cases below 20,000 amid waning virus wave

SEOUL, Oct. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new COVID-19 cases fell below 20,000 on Monday after staying in the 20,000s for the previous three days amid waning virus infections and fewer tests over the extended weekend.

The country reported 12,150 new COVID-19 infections, including 132 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 24,831,761, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

The latest virus wave, triggered by the spread of a highly contagious omicron variant, has been on a decline since mid-August, when it peaked at more than 180,000 cases.

The fall in the virus count Monday is also attributable to less testing over the extended weekend that includes the Oct. 3 National Foundation Day.

The country reported 20 deaths from COVID-19 on Monday, raising the death toll to 28,509.

The number of critically ill patients came to 361, up eight from a day earlier, the KDCA said.

Amid the subsiding virus wave, South Korea has further relaxed antivirus measures to help people return to pre-pandemic normalcy.

On Saturday, South Korea removed a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing requirement for inbound travelers on the first day of their arrival, the last remaining antivirus restrictions for international arrivals.

Health authorities also decided to allow in-person visits at nursing homes and senior care hospitals starting Tuesday. Since July, such visits have been banned to prevent mass infections among high-risk groups.

Last week, the government lifted all outdoor mask mandates but decided to keep rules for indoor mask wearing in place for the time being on the possibility of a "twindemic" of COVID-19 and the seasonal influenza this winter.

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