S. Korea’s new COVID-19 cases above 20,000 for 2nd day amid eased rules

South Korea's new coronavirus cases stayed above 20,000 for the second straight day Thursday, with nearly all remaining antivirus curbs lifted amid a downward trend.

The country reported 24,604 new infections, including 33 imported cases, bringing the total caseload to 31,728,115, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

Daily infections remained below 20,000 for the six days through Tuesday before bouncing back to over 20,000 on Wednesday.

Thursday's tally is higher than the 19,073 cases a week earlier and the 21,784 cases two weeks ago.

The country reported 20 COVID-19 deaths, raising the death toll to 34,804. The number of critically ill patients came to 166, down from 169 the previous day, the KDCA said.

Starting Thursday, the country's mask mandate only applies to hospitals with inpatient rooms and residential-type high-risk facilities.

The mandatory isolation period is also reduced to five days as a recommendation, from the previous seven-day requirement.

Also, the KDCA will release COVID-19 infection data on a weekly basis starting Monday.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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