South Korea's new coronavirus cases fell below 20,000 on Friday as almost all pandemic-related restrictions were lifted this month.
The country reported 19,724 new infections, including 33 imported cases, bringing the total caseload to 31,747,839, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said.
Daily infections remained below 20,000 for the six days through Tuesday but rose above 20,000 on Wednesday and Thursday.
Friday's tally is higher than the 17,933 cases a week earlier and the 19,577 cases two weeks ago.
The country reported 11 COVID-19 deaths, raising the death toll to 34,815. The number of critically ill patients came to 155, down from 166 the previous day, the KDCA said.
Starting Thursday, the country's mask mandate only applies to hospitals with inpatient rooms and residential-type high-risk facilities.
The mandatory isolation period is also reduced to five days as a recommendation, from the previous seven-day requirement.
The health agency also will release COVID-19 infection data on a weekly basis starting Monday. (Yonhap)