South Korea and the US kicked off a major combined military exercise on Monday to reinforce deterrence against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats amid concern Pyongyang could use the manoeuvres as a pretext for provocations.
South Korea’s new coronavirus cases rose to over 20,000 on Wednesday as the daily caseload continued to log on-week growth on eased virus restrictions.
The country reported 20,197 cases, including 26 imported cases, bringing the total caseload to 31,212,598, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.
Wednesday’s tally was a marked growth from the previous day’s 15,741 infections and also higher than 16,380 cases a week earlier.
The country added eight Covid-19 deaths Wednesday, raising the death toll to 34,505.
The number of critically ill patients came to 142, up from 137 a day earlier, the KDCA said.
“Following the removal of the mask-wearing mandate in March, we’ve seen an increase in the number of daily infections. New daily cases rose 3 per cent last week from a week earlier, though the virus situation has been managed in a stable manner,” Second Vice Health Minister Park Min-soo said.
In March, South Korea lifted the mask mandate for public transportation, though it remains for medical facilities, pharmacies and facilities vulnerable to infections, in an effort to support people’s return to pre-pandemic normalcy.
The government is also considering shortening the mandatory Covid-19 isolation period to five days from the current seven starting this month.