South Korea's new COVID-19 cases fell below 100,000 on Monday for the first time in a week on fewer virus tests during the weekend, but the number of seriously ill patients remained at a two-month high amid a virus resurgence fueled by a highly contagious omicron subvariant.
The country added 55,292 new COVID-19 infections, including 482 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 20,544,420, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
Daily cases tend to increase through the mid-week before falling on weekends and Mondays on fewer tests.
The latest daily caseload is the highest for a Monday since the 47,725 tally logged on April 18 and up 1.24 times from the 44,654 cases reported a week ago in the midst of another virus surge driven by the fast spread of the omicron subvariant BA.5.
The growth in new infections led to the surge in the number of seriously ill patients, with 324 critical cases reported Monday, up 27 from a day ago.
The seven-day average of seriously ill patents came at 304, a level last seen in mid-May, according to the KDCA.
The KDCA reported 29 deaths from COVID-19, raising the death toll to 25,292. The fatality rate stood at 0.12 percent.
Eased COVID-19 entry rules and a sharp rise in summer travelers led to record numbers of infection cases from overseas. Import cases, which have stayed in the triple digits since June 24, came in at 482 on Monday.
While health authorities predicted the latest COVID-19 wave could peak out this week at the earliest, or sometime this month, they asked people to continue to take precautions amid rising hospitalizations and pleaded with older adults to get second booster shots.
Of the 54,810 locally transmitted cases, Seoul accounted for 7,853 cases, with the surrounding Gyeonggi Province reporting 15,065 cases. There were 2,672 infections in Incheon, around 30 kilometers west of Seoul. The three areas accounted for 46.7 percent of the total infection cases. (Yonhap)