March 28, 2022 11:10
Signs have emerged that COVID infections may have peaked in Korea, with the weekly tally declining for the first time in about 11 weeks. And as of Monday morning, the daily tally of new coronavirus infections stood at 187,213, below 200,000 for the first time in about three weeks.
But the numbers of severe cases and fatalities, which often lag two to three weeks behind a surge in infections, continued to rise for the seventh week in a row. Health experts predict infections will gradually slow down and hover around 100,000 until late April, but see deaths rising at least until May.
According to health authorities, average daily cases stood at 348,952 over the past week, down about 53,000 or 13 percent from the previous week (402,401). Daily COVID tallies started to soar in the first week of January as the highly contagious Omicron variant spread fast and continued to increase for 10 straight weeks, from about 3,000 cases a day in January to 600,000 cases until recently.
"We may have passed a peak in new cases on March 16 [when some 621,197 cases were reported]," a health official said.
But some experts attribute the recent decline in COVID cases in part to an increase in the number of people who are reluctant to get tested despite having COVID-like symptoms.
Kim Woo-joo at Korea University Guro Hospital said, "I think the actual number of infections is likely to be up to 1.5 times as high as the government's figures."
The number of COVID deaths has continued to rise from some 20 cases per week in February to up to 80 cases this month.
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