|A medical worker wearing protective gear prepares to take a sample at a temporary screening clinic for coronavirus in Seoul, April 10. AP|
South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases fell back below 600 for the first time in six days Monday partly due to fewer tests over the weekend, amid looming concerns over the fourth wave of the pandemic.
The country reported 587 more COVID-19 cases, including 560 local infections, raising the total caseload to 110,146, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
Monday's figure was down from 614 the previous day, but it was still high given fewer tests conducted over the weekend.
The daily figure hovered over 600 in the past four days as people increased their activities in spring, raising concerns over another wave of the pandemic.
The country added two more deaths, raising the total to 1,770.
Last week, South Korea decided to maintain the current level of social distancing rules through May 2 to contain the virus, adding more restrictions to entertainment establishments.
The greater Seoul area, home to half of the nation's 52 million population, is under the Level 2 distancing scheme, the third highest in the five-phase system. The rest of the country is under Level 1.5, except for some municipalities that have adopted Level 2 measures.
Private gatherings of five or more people are banned nationwide.
Under the new guidelines that go into effect Monday, operations of entertainment establishments are banned in the greater Seoul area and the southeastern port city of Busan.
Restaurants in the capital area are allowed to have sit-in customers through 10 p.m., but the guideline may be adjusted again if daily cases rise further.
Those who do not wear masks in indoor settings and on public transportation will be slapped with a fine of 100,000 won (US$89), and business operators who fail to abide by health regulations are subject to a fine of 1.5 million won.
Of the newly confirmed locally transmitted cases, 160 came from Seoul, with Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital city accounting for 173.
The southeastern port city of Busan reported 46 new cases.
There were 27 additional imported cases.
The number of seriously or critically ill COVID-19 patients was 103, two down from the previous day.
The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries was 100,804, up 695 from a day earlier. (Yonhap)