South Korea:COVID-19 cases below 70,000 for 3rd day

South Korea's new COVID-19 cases stayed below 70,000 for the third straight day Sunday, as the government is seeking to phase out mask-wearing regulations in certain places.

The country confirmed 58,448 new coronavirus infections, including 64 from overseas, bringing the total to 28,659,055, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

The daily caseload jumped to 88,160 on Wednesday but has been on the decline through Sunday. Concerns still remain, however, over a possible wintertime surge.

The KDCA reported 46 more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the death toll to 31,790. The number of critically ill patients stood at 592, up 58 from the previous day.

Last week, health authorities announced plans to scrap the indoor mask mandate in phases and a set of criteria that need to be satisfied to implement the mask-free policy.

The four criteria are a stable number of new infections, a downtrend in critically ill cases and deaths, medical response capabilities and a high vaccination rate among high-risk groups, with at least two of them needed to be reached for the government to put the policy in place.

Exceptions will be applied to crowded establishments, such as hospitals, community centers and nursing homes, the KDCA said.

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