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S. Korea's COVID-19 cases fall below 60,000 amid tighter quarantine steps for incoming travelers

Jan. 6, 2023 - 10:27 By Yonhap
Travelers are waiting to get their information entered at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul on Friday, as South Korea implemented a mandatory quarantine information registration system for entrants from China, Hong Kong and Macao. (Yonhap)

South Korea's new COVID-19 cases fell for the third consecutive day to come below 60,000 on Friday amid the government's efforts to prevent the virus inflow from China and other regions.

The country confirmed 56,954 new coronavirus infections, including 258 from overseas, bringing the total to 29,420,226, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said.

The daily caseload surged to over 80,000 earlier this week but has since been on a steady decline. Compared with a week earlier, Friday's figure marked about a 12 percent fall.

The country added 75 COVID-19 deaths, bringing the death toll to 32,496. The death rate stood at 0.11 percent.

The number of critically ill patients came to 548, down from the previous day's 571.

South Korea has been strengthening quarantine efforts for overseas entrants in the wake of the recent surge in infections in China and other adjacent regions over eased virus curbs there.

Arrivals from China are required to present a negative polymerase chain reaction test or antigen test for coronavirus before boarding. The measure, which began Thursday, came after the government required them to undergo a post-entry polymerase chain reaction test from Monday.

Travelers from Hong Kong and Macao will also be required to show a negative pre-entry virus test beginning Saturday.

Of the 258 imported cases reported Friday, 208, or 80.6 percent, were from China, the KDCA said.

The proportion of coronavirus cases from China out of the total imported infections here has grown at a fast clip in recent weeks.

Those coming to South Korea for a short-term stay must undergo a virus test upon arrival, and 31.5 percent of such travelers tested positive Wednesday, the KDCA said.

South Korean nationals and foreigners with residency status visiting China must take a polymerase chain reaction test within one day of arrival.

South Korea has been working to enhance cooperation with Japan and the United States for joint responses to the virus situation in China.

KDCA Commissioner Jee Young-mee held an emergency virtual meeting with her Japanese counterpart Thursday, and exchanged opinions and information regarding arrivals from China and COVID variants, according to her office.

KDCA officials also held working-level talks with the US' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday and discussed the potential sharing of information on the genetic analysis of infected travelers from China, it added.

"We will continue cooperation with major nations for joint responses to COVID-19 so as to prepare for and deal with the situation in a preemptive manner," Jee said. (Yonhap)