SEOUL, Jan. 30 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea on Monday lifted most mandatory indoor mask-wearing rules after more than two years amid a recent COVID-19 downtrend, with infections for the day falling to the lowest level in about seven months.
The country reported 7,416 new cases, including 22 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 30,157,017, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
It is the lowest level since July 4 last year when the daily caseload came to 6,239. Monday’s figure also was around 20 percent lower than the number logged a week earlier.
The country added 30 COVID-19 deaths, bringing the death toll to 33,420. The number of critically ill patients came to 402, down from 420 the previous day, the KDCA said.
Starting Monday, people can visit most places, including schools, kindergartens and gyms, without masks, as the government lifted the indoor mask mandate that had been enforced since October 2020.
Still, the mask mandate will remain in place at hospitals, pharmacies and on public transportation, the KDCA said.
The move came as South Korea is capable of managing the virus situation with the current medical response system, the public health agency said, as the new infections, as well as the number of critically ill cases and COVID-19 deaths, have been stabilized.
In May last year, South Korea lifted the outdoor mask mandate in a major step toward supporting people’s return to normalcy.
Jung Ki-suck, chair of the government advisory committee for COVID-19, told a press briefing Monday that the full removal of the mask-wearing restrictions would be possible around May, given experts’ forecast on the virus trend in the coming months.
On the first day of the lifting of the mandate, most people continued to wear masks, while showing mixed reactions.
Some voiced concerns over the chances of being infected without the protection, while others said they welcomed the move, though they are accustomed to wearing masks in public places.