SEOUL, Oct. 21 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea’s new COVID-19 cases stayed below 30,000 for the third straight day Friday, but signs have emerged indicating that the coronavirus might be picking up steam again.
The country reported 24,751 new COVID-19 infections, including 60 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 25,244,255, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
While the country’s sixth and latest virus wave has slowed since mid-August, health authorities cautioned that the pace of slowdown is easing, especially at a time when new, immune-evading virus variants are spreading around the world.
Also, the reproduction rate, which represents new infections estimated to stem from a single case, surpassed 1 for the first time in nine weeks, hinting the virus might be spreading fast again, as feared by many epidemiologists who warned of a coronavirus-flu twindemic in the coming winter.
Friday’s figure inched up from 23,576 from a week ago, and climbed from 22,288 two weeks ago.
The country reported 30 deaths from COVID-19, raising the death toll to 28,952. The fatality rate stood at 0.11 percent. The number of critically ill patients came to 233, down 16 from a day earlier, the KDCA said.
South Korea’s virus curve has been on the general decline since peaking at over 180,000 cases on Aug. 17.
To move on from the pandemic, all outdoor mask mandates were lifted, and inbound travelers are no longer required to submit polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results.
Starting next month, the government will fully resume its visa-waiver program for 91 nations as a reciprocal measure, after suspending it in early 2020 to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.