South Korea's new COVID-19 cases stayed below 40,000 for the third straight day Thursday as the virus wave has been gradually slowing down.
The county reported 30,881 new COVID-19 infections, including 252 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 24,740,635, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
It marks a sharp decline from the previous day's 36,159.
The virus wave has been on a decline after a resurgence in July that later peaked above 180,000 cases in mid-August.
The country reported 46 deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday, raising the death toll to 28,364.
The number of critically ill patients came to 363, down by 12 from a day earlier, the KDCA said.
As the virus wave shows signs of subsiding, the government on Wednesday decided to reduce the number of hospital beds reserved for COVID-19 patients in phases.
Currently, some 7,400 beds are set aside for COVID-19 patients, and some 20 percent of them are occupied. Of the total, 1,477 will be used for other general patients by Oct. 7, according to the KDCA.
On Monday, the government lifted all outdoor mask mandates, as it plans to ease virus prevention measures to better support people's everyday lives.
Rules for indoor mask wearing will remain in place for the time being on possible risks of seasonal influenza and other infectious diseases, according to officials. (Yonhap)