SEOUL, Feb. 11 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s new COVID-19 cases stayed below 20,000 for the 10th consecutive day Saturday, signaling a solid downtrend in the spread of the virus here.
The country reported 12,805 new cases, including 24 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 30,338,148, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
The Saturday tally is down from 14,624 the previous week and 13,504 the previous day.
The country added 16 COVID-19 deaths, bringing the death toll to 33,713, the KDCA said.
The number of critically ill patients came to 284, down from 287 the previous day.
As new cases subsided, South Korea lifted the mask mandate for indoor spaces, except at hospitals, pharmacies and public transportation, last month.
Starting Saturday, South Korea resumed issuing short-term visas for travelers from China as China’s COVID-19 infection wave has peaked and begun to subside, according to the interior ministry.
As of Friday, 189 of 1,431 short-term visitors from China had received PCR tests, and three tested positive for COVID-19, according to the KDCA. The infection rate stood at 1.6 percent.
The resumption came about 40 days after South Korea had tightened curbs on travelers from China on Jan. 2 amid a surge in COVID-19 infections in the neighboring nation.
It had suspended the issuance of short-term visas from its diplomatic missions in China and required arrivals from China to undergo a coronavirus test before and after their arrival.
Authorities expect that the policy easing will not immediately lead to an increase in the number of visitors from China, considering the time needed for visa issuing procedures, as well as restrictions on the number of inbound flights from China.