|A health worker in protective gear prepares for visitors at a temporary COVID-19 screening clinic in Seoul, March 31. AP-Yonhap|
Korea's new daily COVID-19 cases remained below 300,000 for the second consecutive day Friday as the spread of the Omicron subvariant slows after peaking out last month.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 264,171 infections, including 68 cases from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 13,639,915.
The country has seen a downward trend in new cases in recent weeks, following an all-time high of over 620,000, March 17 dipping to a nearly one-month low of 187,182 last Sunday.
A total of 339 additional deaths were recorded, raising the total toll to 16,929 for a fatality rate of 0.12 percent.
The number of critically ill patients fell to 1,165 from a record high of 1,315 the previous day.
Beginning next week, the government will increase the private gathering limit to 10 people from eight and extend the business hour curfew on restaurants and cafes by one hour to midnight.
The health authorities are reportedly considering lifting all social distancing rules and outdoor mask mandates when the revised rules expire in two weeks, given the nation's high vaccination rate and falling infection rate.
The number of fully vaccinated people came to 44.5 million, or 86.7 percent of the 52 million population, while 63.9 percent had received booster shots, the KDCA said. (Yonhap)