Korea's daily Covid-19 cases dropped below 50 for the first time in four days on Sunday. However, no fewer than 12 metropolises and provinces reported new infections, giving no respite to the public health authorities.
The nation recorded 48 new Covid-19 cases, including 24 local infections, as of midnight Sunday, raising the cumulative caseload to 13,137, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The number of people released from quarantine after full recoveries totaled 11,848, up 16 from the previous day.
One more person died, increasing the death toll to 284 and raising the mortality rate to 2.16 percent. The nation has tested 1,331,796 suspected patients since Jan. 3. Among them, 1,297,367 people tested negative with the other 21,292 waiting for results.
The number of imported cases also reached 24, marking a double-digit rise for the 11th consecutive day and nearly doubling that of the previous day.
The drop in local infections came after the nation recorded more than 60 new COVID-19 patients for three consecutive days on Saturday for the first time since April.
The greater Seoul area, which includes the western port city of Incheon and surrounding Gyeonggi Province, accounted for half of the local infections with 12. Other regions also continued to record sporadic infections with the health authorities confirming seven new cases in Gwangju, two in Daegu and South Jeolla Province, and one case in South Chungcheong Province. Cases tied to a Buddhist temple in Gwangju reached 80, up 13 from a day earlier.
Faced with a continuous rise in cases, the South Jeolla provincial government, in which Gwangju is located, has lifted the region's social distancing to Level 2 from Monday. The upgraded measure calls for stricter virus preventive measures, including banning all private and public indoor meetings of 50 or more and outdoor meetings of more than 100 and making it mandatory to wear masks when using public transportation.
However, the Central Disease Control Headquarters said it was still not considering upgrading the social distancing on a national level, stressing the situation remains within control.
"While small-scale infections continue, overall infections in the country are at a controllable level," Minister of Health and Welfare Park Neung-hoo said Monday. "However, it is worrisome that the number of cases with unknown infection paths is increasing gradually."
Although the government is going all out to trace and track the infection routes, it is essential for people to follow self-quarantine measures against infections, including asymptomatic cases and infections with no clear courses, Park added.
Park also reiterated the importance of strict adherence to the quarantine rules during the summertime.
"The weather is getting hotter, and we believe that it will be more difficult to comply with the prevention measures, including wearing a mask, when monsoon season comes," Park said.
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