S. Korea’s new COVID-19 cases stay below 20,000 for 2nd day

South Korea's new coronavirus cases stayed below 20,000 for the second consecutive day on Saturday, as the country moved to end almost all COVID-19 restrictions and return to pre-pandemic normalcy.

The country reported 19,352 cases, including 30 imported cases, bringing the total caseload to 31,390,699, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

Saturday's tally was down from 19,989 cases a day earlier but was about 7,000 higher than a week ago.

The country added six COVID-19 deaths Saturday, raising the death toll to 34,597.

The number of critically ill patients came to 153, unchanged from a day earlier, the KDCA said.

On Thursday, President Yoon Suk Yeol declared the country will lower the national crisis level for COVID-19 from "serious" to "alert" and lift almost all remaining antivirus measures in June in line with the World Health Organization's recent announcement that the virus is no longer a global health emergency.

Under the new measures, the seven-day mandatory isolation period for COVID-19 patients will be reduced to a recommendation of five days and the indoor mask mandate will be lifted everywhere except for hospitals with rooms for hospitalization.

Source: Yonhap News Agency