South Korea forced to reinstate antivirus measures amid growing COVID-19 wave
SEOUL — South Korea’s daily COVID-19 infections continued to post a week-on-week increase on Sunday amid the recent COVID-19 wave fueled by the highly contagious Omicron strain BA.5, government data showed Monday.
Amid the ongoing spread of the new Omicron strain, some antivirus measures at international airports and senior care hospitals have also been reinstated.
Starting on Monday, international arrivals need to take a polymerase chain reaction test on the day of their entry to the country, or by the second day of arrival at the latest.
Earlier in June, the government eased the PCR test requirement for international arrivals in June. Under the rule, people entering South Korea could take PCR tests within three days of entry.
However, the number of infections from overseas continued to rise. Since last week, the number of daily cases among international arrivals remained above 300. On Sunday, imported COVID-19 infections reached 343.
To prevent infections among high-risk groups, the government has also started limiting visits to nursing homes, senior care hospitals and psychiatric institutions as of Monday.
As for the figure posted for the 24-hour-period of Sunday, the country added 35,883 new COVID-19 infections.
The daily tally was down from the previous day’s 65,433 cases, but this was mainly due to fewer tests being carried out over the weekend. This is still an increase compared to a week ago, when 26,299 cases were reported for Sunday.
The speed at which coronavirus infections are spreading appeared to have slightly slowed down on Sunday, as the daily tally increased by less than 10,000 from a week ago.
A week ago, the number of daily COVID-19 infections more than doubled to 26,299 cases from the previous week’s 12,692 cases. Throughout last week, the country‘s daily cases continued to post 20,000-30,000 on-week increases as well.
Experts, however, noted that the actual number of daily infections on Sunday could be two to three times higher than the figure that has been reported. They argued that the number of tests could have shrunk over the weekend mainly due to the onset of the summer vacation season.
In the meantime, the number of critically ill patients and deaths from the virus also continued to tick upward.
The number of critically ill patients on Sunday came to 144, 1.77 times higher than the previous week‘s 81. Among 1,458 intensive care hospital beds, the occupancy rate for critically ill patients was 23 percent (336 beds), up from 15.2 percent from a week prior.
The number of deaths from the virus reached 17, also up from 11 a week ago. The death toll came to 24,890, and the fatality rate was at 0.13 percent.
The government on Monday also confirmed the fourth case of BA.2.75, a new subvariant nicknamed “Centaurus.” The government said it would continue monitoring local transmissions of the newer Omicron subvariant.
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