A citizen gets a COVID-19 test at the Mapo-gu public health center in Seoul. (Yonhap)
South Korea's new COVID-19 cases dropped below 100,000 on Saturday, while the number of critically ill patients reached the highest level since late April.
The country added 95,604 new COVID-19 infections, including 398 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 22,898,523, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
It marked a decline from the previous day's 101,140 and the first time daily infections have fallen below 100,000 since Monday when there were 59,028 new cases.
The country reported 86 COVID-19 deaths, bringing the death toll to 26,499, the KDCA said. The fatality rate stood at 0.12 percent.
The number of critically ill patients came to 579, the most since late April.
Daily infections jumped to 150,212 on Tuesday before dropping to 139,310 on Wednesday and 113,359 on Thursday. The KDCA earlier said it expected the number of daily infections to continue to decline through this week or next week.
The recent decline in new infections raised cautious optimism that the latest virus wave may have peaked. But authorities remain on high alert over a possible resurgence in the COVID-19 pandemic this fall.
Of the locally transmitted 95,206 cases, Seoul reported 14,578 and Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital added 22,826.
Incheon, a port city 27 kilometers west of Seoul, identified 4,718 new cases.
Since the first local confirmation of COVID-19 on Jan. 20, 2020, the country has gone through multiple major waves of the virus.
The latest wave came during the height of the summer vacation season, fueled by the highly transmissible omicron subvariant BA.5 and eased virus curbs. (Yonhap)