Korea reported 11 cases of the new coronavirus on Wednesday, continuing the downtrend of infection and curbing the total to 10,683, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Six of the 11 cases were new arrivals, raising the total number of imported infections to 1,017. The death toll rose to 238, and the fatality rate, 2.2 percent.
The plateauing figures mark a drastic drop from the Feb. 29 peak of 909 new cases. The country confirmed its first Covid-19 infection on Jan. 20. In total, 8,277 patients in Korea have recovered from the virus, up from 8,213 a day earlier.
On Monday, Korea began to apply a relaxed social-distancing advisory to some facilities, including gyms and cram schools, as the number of new Covid-19 infections here showed clear signs of slowing down. The government said it would maintain the social distancing drive until May 5 but ease some rules on the condition that such facilities comply with safety measures.
"The overall situation is calming down as the nation has been confirming about 10 new cases per day,” Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said while presiding over the daily coronavirus task force meeting. “Although we cannot ease the tension as mass infections can outbreak at any moment, we can at least afford to discuss how to resume economic activities now."
Chung said Korea needs to share information and know-how and cooperate with global societies to end the pandemic, calling it a "global social capital."
Korea suffered hardships at the beginning of the outbreak, which came to it a little earlier than other countries. Still, the nation maintained openness, transparency, and democracy as the three core tactics, Chung noted.
The coronavirus czar of the Moon Jae-in administration added that he hoped Korea would be able to share its disease control system and diagnostic expertise with as many countries as possible to end the Covid-19 pandemic at an early date.
"More than 100 nations have asked us to supply medical equipment, and the nation will respond to requests for diagnostic kits and protective equipment as much as possible to the best of circumstances," Chung added.
As part of preparations to shift to an “everyday quarantine system,” the public health authorities announced Wednesday a set of guidelines for individuals and organizations.
For instance, the new guidance advised individuals to rest for three to four days when they feel ill, continue to wash hands for 30 seconds several times a day, wear masks, and ventilate their homes. It also called for organizations to set up their own quarantine rules, check fevers and respiratory symptoms of their members.
To cope with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, meanwhile, the government decided to inject emergency relief budget of an additional 50 trillion won ($40 billion) – 40 trillion won to help bail out troubled flagship industries and 10 trillion to help businesses retain their employees and save their jobs. The decision came at the fifth emergency economic council meeting chaired by President Moon.
As of midnight Tuesday, the nation tested 577,959 people and completed 565,838 tests. Among the tested, 555,144 suspected patients showed a negative response to the test, and 12,121 people are waiting for the results. The accumulated confirmation rate inched down to 1.9 percent.
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