SEOUL, April 26 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s daily new coronavirus cases jumped to over 80,000 on Tuesday as most of the country’s virus restrictions are lifted amid the slowdown of the omicron wave.
The country added 80,361 new COVID-19 infections, including 16 cases from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 17,009,865, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
Tuesday’s tally is sharply up from 34,370 cases reported on Monday as the daily counts tend to fall on Mondays due to fewer tests on the weekend before rising toward the end of the week.
Health authorities and local governments had reported 75,323 new cases as of 9 p.m. Tuesday, down 621 from the same time the previous day. Daily cases are counted until midnight and announced the following morning.
The omicron wave has been on the decline after the country’s daily infections reached the peak of 621,178 cases on March 17.
The KDCA said the pandemic may reach a stagnant phase after slowing down over the next one to two months. The authorities also cited the possibility of the omicron wave regaining its momentum.
The death toll from COVID-19 came to 22,325, up 82 from the previous day. It marks the first time in 55 days the death toll posted a double-digit growth.
The fatality rate was 0.13 percent. The number of critically ill patients came to 613, down 55 from a day earlier.
An average of fewer than 40,000 daily new COVID-19 cases and fewer than 500 critically ill patients are expected in May, the authorities said.
To reflect the weakening pandemic, health authorities downgraded COVID-19 to the second-highest level of the four-tier infectious disease control system on Monday.
Of the locally transmitted infections, Seoul reported 13,559 cases and its surrounding Gyeonggi Province added 19,362 cases, the KDCA said.
As of midnight Monday, 44.54 million, or 86.8 percent of the 52 million population, had been fully vaccinated, and 33.08 million, or 64.5 percent, had received their first COVID-19 booster shots, the KDCA said.
A total of 1.03 million people, or 2 percent of the population, have received second booster shots across the country.
The KDCA said a total of 55,906 people are suspected to have been reinfected with the virus, accounting for 0.347 percent of the total caseload.
Of them, 65 people have been infected three times, the authorities said.