(LEAD) Coronavirus: new cases below 30,000 for the 2nd day in a row

SEOUL, May 20 (Yonhap) — The number of additional cases of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in South Korea remained below 30,000 on Friday for the second consecutive day as authorities moved to extend the self – isolation of patients who have contracted Covid-19 for the next four weeks.

The country added 25,103 new Covid-19 infections, including 22 cases from overseas, bringing the toll to 17,914,957, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said. Friday’s tally marks another drop from the 28,310 and 31,352 counted on Thursday and Wednesday, respectively. The number of daily transmissions remained between 30,000 and 40,000 this month, after hitting six figures in March and April at the height of the Omicron wave.

The KDCA added 43 deaths from Covid-19, bringing the total to 23,885, with a fatality rate of 0.13%. The number of critically ill patients fell to 251 from 274 the previous day.

Health authorities announced this morning the extension of seven-day self-isolation for Covid-19 patients for the next four weeks. “New highly contagious variants have been detected in the country and fears have mounted over the decline in the effects of vaccines and immunity,” Interior Minister Lee Sang-min said, adding that “we have decided to maintain the seven-day self-isolation (for patients) while the situation will be reassessed in four weeks.” With this decision, the self-isolation imposed on patients will be maintained until June 20.

By midnight Thursday, 44.57 million people, or 86.8% of the population, had completed the full two-dose vaccination course, and 33.25 million, or 64.8%, had received their first booster shot . A total of 3.70 million people received their second booster shot, the KDCA said.