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S. Korea's new COVID-19 cases below 20,000 for 2nd day as omicron wave ebbs

A coronavirus testing center near Seoul Station is quiet on Thursday, as the COVID-19 pandemic is in retreat in South Korea. (Yonhap)
A coronavirus testing center near Seoul Station is quiet on Thursday, as the COVID-19 pandemic is in retreat in South Korea. (Yonhap)

South Korea reported fewer than 20,000 COVID-19 cases for the second consecutive day Friday as the pandemic's grip on the country appears to be loosening.

The country added 16,584 new infections, including 49 cases from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 18,053,287, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

The daily tally fell to a 17-week low for a Friday and declined around 34 percent from a week earlier, as the virus curve has turned downward since mid-March.

South Korea's daily caseload peaked at over 621,000 on March 17, driven by the rapid spread of the omicron variant nationwide.

The country added 40 deaths from COVID-19, taking the total to 24,103. The fatality rate stood at 0.13 percent. The number of critically ill patients stood at 207, the KDCA said.

Of the locally transmitted cases, Seoul accounted for 3,019 cases, with its surrounding Gyeonggi Province reporting 3,567 cases. There were also 576 additional patients from Incheon, 40 kilometers west of the capital city.

As of midnight Thursday, 44.57 million, or 86.9 percent of the population, had completed the full two-dose vaccinations, and 33.28 million, representing 64.9 percent, had received their first booster shots. More than 3.97 million people had gotten their second booster shots, the KDCA said. (Yonhap)

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