(LEAD) S. Korea’s COVID-19 cases drop for 1st time in 2 months

South Korea’s new coronavirus cases dropped last week to snap seven consecutive weeks of growth, government data showed Monday, encouraging health authorities to resume their plans to lift all virus curbs.

The country reported a daily average of 40,400 new infections for the week of Aug. 15-21, down 17.7 percent from 49,000 a week earlier, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

The cases had been on the rise since the fourth week of June.

The number of COVID-19 deaths fell 11 percent on-week to 130, it added.

“The summer wave has entered a downside cycle after a seven-week rally, and the epidemic is slowing,” a KDCA official said.

With the slowdown in daily coronavirus cases, the KDCA is considering announcing its road map to lift all antivirus curbs and fully return to pre-pandemic normalcy later this week.

It includes measures to lower the disease level of COVID-19 by two notches and remove all mask mandates at hospitals and nursing homes as part of its efforts to implement a full transition to a normal state for the medical system.

The plan, originally set to be released in early August, has been postponed for weeks due to the recent surge in COVID-19 infections.

Source: Yonhap News Agency