South Korea's new coronavirus cases fell below 20,000 on Sunday, just a day ahead of the country's planned lifting of a mask mandate for indoor places that has been in place for more than three years.
The country reported 18,871 new cases, including 37 from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 30,149,601, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
The daily caseload had been above 30,000 for the second straight day Friday due to increased tests after the Lunar New Year holiday that ended Tuesday, before falling to 23,612 on Saturday.
Sunday's daily infections were down by more than 2,000 from a week earlier.
Starting Monday, people will be allowed to visit most places, including schools, kindergartens and gyms, without masks, as the government plans to lift the mandate that has been in force since October 2020.
Still, the mask mandate will remain in place at hospitals, pharmacies and on public transportation, the KDCA said.
In May, South Korea lifted the outdoor mask mandate in a major step toward regaining normalcy.
The country added 29 COVID-19 deaths, bringing the death toll to 33,390. The number of critically ill patients came to 420, up 10 from the previous day, the KDCA said. (Yonhap)