New COVID-19 cases below 400,000 for 4th day amid omicron wave

SEOUL-- South Korea's new daily COVID-19 cases stayed below 400,000 for the fourth consecutive day Sunday, as the highly transmissible omicron variant continues to spread across the nation amid eased antivirus curbs.

The country added 318,130 new coronavirus infections, including 43 cases from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 11,162,232, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

Sunday's tally is down from 335,580 reported the previous day, with the daily caseload being on a constant slide since Wednesday when the figure came to 490,844.

The death toll from COVID-19 was 282, down 41 from Saturday. The fatality rate stood at 0.13 percent.

The number of critically ill patients came to 1,216, up from the previous day's 1,164, the KDCA said.

As the country has experienced the worst virus wave over the omicron variant, the government has shifted away from rigorous contact tracing and treatment, and focused on dealing with seriously ill patients and ways to prevent deaths.

It has also relaxed some antivirus curbs in efforts to regain normalcy and support small businesses and self-employed people hit hard by the pandemic. The current eight-person cap on private gatherings and the 11 p.m. business curfew are supposed to be in place until April 3.

Starting Sunday, the government lifted the restriction on purchasing COVID-19 self-test kits to five units at one place, which had been enforced since last month in the wake of a supply crunch.

The authorities began administering MSD's oral pill, Lagevrio, on Saturday for patients with underlying illnesses or symptoms that forbid them from taking Pfizer's Paxlovid or other treatment pills.

As of Sunday, 32.63 million people out of the total population, or 63.6 percent, had received booster shots. The number of fully vaccinated people came to 44.47 million, representing 86.7 percent, the KDCA said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency