SEOUL-- South Korea's new coronavirus cases stayed above 2,300 for the third consecutive day Friday, four days after the country relaxed its virus restrictions nationwide in line with its "living with COVID-19" scheme.
The country reported 2,344 new COVID-19 cases, including 2,324 local infections, raising the total caseload to 375,464, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
New cases slipped a bit from the previous day's 2,482, but a jump from 2,124 recorded last Friday, the KDCA said.
The death toll rose by 20 to 2,936 on Friday, the health authorities said. The fatality rate came to 0.78 percent.
Health authorities and local governments had reported 1,542 new cases as of 6 p.m., down 145 from the same time the previous day. Daily cases are counted until midnight and announced the following morning.
The health authorities warned virus cases could continue to trend upward again, especially after the Halloween weekend when once-empty popular nightlife districts became bustling and busy again with young people.
The government on Friday exercised an administrative order to secure more hospital beds in the greater Seoul area in preparation for a possible spike in daily COVID-19 cases.
A total of 1,094 hospital beds at general hospitals in the region will be additionally secured for treatment of critically-ill COVID-19 patients, the authorities said, a move that could treat up to 10,000 new COVID-19 patients daily.
Currently, private gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed, regardless of vaccination. Still, wearing a face mask indoors is mandatory.
While restrictions on restaurants, cafes and movie theaters are fully lifted, high-risk facilities, such as bars and nightclubs, are required to implement the "vaccine pass" system where visitors have to show they have been fully vaccinated or have a negative test result.
The KDCA said 76.1 percent of the country's 52 million population are fully vaccinated and 80.6 percent received their first shots.
Of the locally transmitted cases, Seoul had 974 cases, with the surrounding Gyeonggi Province logging 740 cases and Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, 152 cases.
Of the total, 20 cases came from overseas, putting the cumulative total at 15,194.
The number of critically ill COVID-19 patients came to 382, up 17 from a day earlier, the KDCA said.
Source: Yonhap News Agency