New COVID-19 cases under 30,000 amid clear downward trend

SEOUL, South Korea's new COVID-19 cases fell below 30,000 on Saturday in an apparent sign that the country's virus cases are significantly declining amid eased social distancing rules.

The country added 29,581 new virus infections, including 25 cases from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 17,756,627, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

The figure marked a sharp drop from 32,451 reported the previous day and 35,906 added on Thursday.

The country added 55 COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 23,661, the KDCA said.

The number of critically ill patients came to 341, compared with 347 the previous day.

The country eased social distancing guidelines last month as it saw a clear downward trend in new infections since they peaked at 621,178 on March 17.

The country also eased the outdoor mask mandate on May 2, except for large gatherings of 50 or more, as it is moving toward a return to normalcy. The indoor mask mandate remains in effect.

On Friday, South Korea said it plans to ease restrictions for entry into the country in a bid to boost convenience for inbound travelers.

Starting May 23, the government will recognize negative rapid antigen test results for travelers boarding flights to South Korea, on top of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results currently being accepted.

Source: Yonhap News Agency