SEOUL, Jan. 1 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s new COVID-19 cases fell for the fifth straight day on Sunday, but the number of critically ill patients rose to the highest in about eight months as the government is bracing for a wintertime surge and a spike in imported cases from China.
The country confirmed 57,527 new coronavirus infections, including 110 from overseas, bringing the total to 29,116,800, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
The latest tally marked the fifth straight fall since Tuesday, when the figure soared to 87,578. It also was lower than 58,413 reported a week earlier. Sunday figures usually drop due to fewer tests over weekends.
The KDCA reported 63 COVID-19 deaths, bringing the death toll to 32,219. The death rate stood at 0.11 percent.
The number of critically ill patients rose to 636, higher than the previous day’s 557. It was the first time in about eight months that the number has topped 600.
South Korea has been stepping up efforts to contain a surge in coronavirus infections in the winter season and bracing for a spike in Chinese travelers as Beijing eases virus curbs.
On Friday, the Seoul government said that it will require travelers coming from China to show a negative COVID-19 test until the end of February before boarding flights to South Korea.
All travelers from China will also be required to receive a PCR test within the first day of their arrival. The rules will be enforced from Monday.
In preparation for the new rules, the government said that it has set up facilities and deployed personnel necessary to carry out coronavirus tests on up to 550 inbound travelers a day at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul.
The number of imported cases topped 100 for the first time in about three months. Of the total 110 imported cases reported Sunday, 25 came from China.