|Visitors wearing face masks as a precaution against COVID-19 walk past a section of a public park in Seoul taped off with a sign that reads 'Access restricted to prevent the spread of COVID-19,' March 4. AP|
Daily new COVID-19 cases here hovered above 400 for Friday, as sporadic infection clusters showed no signs of a letup and the rising number of travelers amid the warm weather is raising worries about another uptick in infections.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 418 more coronavirus cases, including 404 local ones, raising the total caseload to 92,055.
The number was slightly up from the 398 reported for Thursday, but down from 424 tallied the previous day.
Five more patients died from COVID-19, raising the total to 1,632 for a fatality rate of 1.77 percent.
Since reporting a record daily-high 1,241 infections on Dec. 25 last year, the country has seen the figure gradually fall with some ups and downs.
The number, however, has stayed stagnant recently at around 300 and 400, as infection clusters at workplaces and hospitals have lingered.
The authorities are expressing concern as more people are expected to want to enjoy outdoor activities in the warmer weather as spring approaches, warning them to continue to stay home to flatten the infection curve.
The greater Seoul area, home to about half of the nation's 52 million population, is currently under Level 2 social distancing measures, the third highest in the government's five-tier system, while other regions are under Level 1.5.
Private gatherings of five or more people are banned nationwide.
The administration is, however, tentatively moving toward imposing a four-tier social distancing system that will allow businesses, such as cafes and restaurants, to operate under voluntary containment efforts. The health authorities plan to finalize this new plan by the end of the month.
A total of 296,380 people have now been vaccinated since the government launched a mass nationwide vaccination campaign last week, with an additional 67,840 getting the shots Friday, according to the KDCA.
Some 291,131 people received the AstraZeneca vaccine, while 5,249 received the one from Pfizer.
The government aims to achieve herd immunity here by November.
The number of people suffering adverse effects after receiving the shots came to 2,883, up 1,305 from the previous day, with the majority of them showing common and mild symptoms such as headaches or fever.
The number of people who have died after being vaccinated is seven so far ― although they had underlying conditions and no correlation has been established so far.
Of the 404 locally transmitted cases Friday, 126 were reported in Seoul and 172 in the surrounding Gyeonggi Province; while Incheon, 40 kilometers west of the capital, saw 19.
North Chungcheong Province reported 22 infections, and the southeastern port city of Busan added 12.
Infection clusters involving foreign workers in Dongducheon, just north of Seoul, reached 146, according to the latest data provided Friday. A call center in Gwangju reported 73.
There were an additional 14 imported cases, raising that caseload to 7,160.
Of the newly imported cases, three came from the United Arab Emirates, while arrivals from the United States and Pakistan accounted for two each.
The number of seriously or critically ill COVID-19 patients was 136, up one from the previous day.
The number of people recovering from the infection was 82,913, up 353 from a day earlier. More than 90 percent of patients reported here have recovered.
South Korea has carried out 6,821,943 COVID-19 tests so far. (Yonhap)