S. Korea’s new COVID-19 cases bounce back to over 20,000 amid eased rules

South Korea's new coronavirus cases bounced back to over 20,000 on Wednesday, with health authorities preparing to lift nearly all remaining antivirus curbs.

The country reported 24,411 new infections, including 48 imported cases, bringing the total caseload to 31,703,511, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

Daily infections had remained below 20,000 for the past six days. Wednesday's tally is higher than the 22,952 cases a week earlier but lower than the 26,128 two weeks ago.

The country reported 17 COVID-19 deaths, raising the death toll to 34,784. The number of critically ill patients came to 169, down from 176 the previous day, the KDCA said.

Starting Thursday, the country's mask mandate will only be applied to hospitals with inpatient rooms and residential-type high-risk facilities.

The mandatory isolation period will also be reduced to five days as a recommendation, from the current seven-day requirement.

Source: Yonhap News Agency