S. Korea’s new COVID-19 cases above 75,000 as winter wave spreads

SEOUL– South Korea’s new COVID-19 cases stood above 75,000 on Thursday, up by nearly 5,600 from a week earlier, as the virus wave continues to spread in the winter.

The country reported 75,744 new COVID-19 infections, including 73 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 28,466,390, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

The latest daily count is up by 5,590 from a week ago. South Korea has seen a steady rise in the infection numbers in recent weeks amid growing fears of a winter resurgence. One in 6 people have now been reinfected with COVID-19, the KDCA earlier said.

South Korea added 62 more deaths from the coronavirus, raising the death toll to 31,611. The fatality rate stayed unchanged at 0.11 percent.

The number of critically ill patients came to 547, up 35 from the previous day.

Despite the upward curve, the government appears on track to carry out a phased lifting of the indoor mask mandate by mid-January, with details on the plans to be announced Friday.

Ruling party lawmakers suggested health authorities lift the mask requirement and leave it as a recommendation, on condition that it meets “certain criteria,” Rep. Sung Il-jong of the People Power Party told reporters after a meeting of government officials and lawmakers on Thursday.

Exceptions will apply, however, to crowded establishments like hospitals, community centers and nursing homes, Sung said.

The lawmakers also proposed shortening the seven-day isolation period to about three days.

Ruling party lawmakers cite the low level of severity in the COVID-19 variant cases, and the inconvenience of wearing masks and negative impact it has on children, among others.

The indoor mask mandate is the last remaining COVDI-19 restriction in South Korea after the country removed all other virus curbs like business hour curfews and limits on private gatherings.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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