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New infections dip to 1,300s on fewer tests, post-holiday resurgence worried

17 August 2021 18:42

SEOUL. KAZINFORM - South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases fell back to the 1,300s on Tuesday due to fewer tests over the extended weekend amid concerns over a potential upsurge down the road, Yonhap reports.

The country added 1,373 more COVID-19 cases, including 1,323 local infections, raising the total caseload to 226,854, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

Daily infections fell from 1,556 on Monday, 1,817 on Sunday and 1,930 on Saturday, but the decline was attributable to fewer tests over the three-day holiday.

The country added six more deaths from COVID-19, raising the death toll to 2,173. The fatality rate was 0.96 percent.

As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, health authorities and local governments reported 1,390 new cases, up 236 from the same time the previous day. Daily cases are counted until midnight and announced the following day.

Since early July, South Korea has been grappling with the fourth wave of the pandemic amid the fast spread of the more transmissible delta variant and slow vaccinations.

For more than a month, the greater Seoul area, home to half of the country's 52 million people, has been under the toughest virus curbs, and some regions outside the greater Seoul area are also under the toughest virus restrictions.

Despite the Level 4 distancing rules, the number of daily infections has topped 1,000 for 42 days in a row. The country reported a record high 2,223 cases Wednesday.

The KDCA said South Korea has confirmed 3,014 more cases of four major contagious variants of the new coronavirus over the past week, including 2,594 of the highly transmissible delta variant.

The caseload of such infections reached 13,780 here, with the number of delta cases, first reported in India, tallied at 10,421, according to the KDCA.

Health authorities said there is a possibility that the lambda COVID-19 variant, first detected in Peru and more resistant to vaccines, could cross the border, making the situation worse in Korea.

The country has also reported more than 2,100 cases involving people who tested positive for COVID-19 even after being fully vaccinated.

Health authorities said they are reviewing more enhanced antivirus measures to contain the pandemic.

A delay in the vaccine supply by U.S. drugmaker Moderna Inc. is also complicating the country's efforts to accelerate the vaccine rollout.

Moderna has notified the government that it will supply less than half of the 8.5 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine planned for August.

The supply setbacks have raised doubts over the government's plan to administer the first shots to 70 percent of the population, or 36 million people, by Sept. 19 and have them fully vaccinated by the end of October to achieve herd immunity.

The government said Tuesday it has asked Moderna to deliver the vaccines originally scheduled to be delivered in August by early September.

Moderna is expected to report specific volumes and a time frame for the delivery of its vaccines to Seoul, it said.

As of Tuesday, 23.05 million people, or 44.9 percent of the population, had received their first shots of COVID-19 vaccines, the KDCA said.

The number of fully vaccinated people stood at 9.99 million, or 19.5 percent.

Of the locally transmitted cases, Seoul reported 361 new cases, and Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds the capital city, identified 372 new patients. The southeastern port city of Busan reported 65 more cases, and Incheon, 40 km west of Seoul, added 77 cases.

The number of new imported cases came to 50, raising the total to 12,919.

The number of patients with serious symptoms across the country reached 354, up one from a day earlier, the KDCA said.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries was 197,224, up 1,026 from a day earlier.