23일만에 600명대... 거리두기 및 5인 이상 모임 전면금지 효과 주목
South Korea today has seen a significant decline in the number of new cases of COVID-19 compared to the recent highs.
It's in part because of fewer tests being done on the holiday weekend, but there also seems to be real progress being made in slowing the spread.
The government has decided to stick with the ban on gatherings of more than five people to the whole country, but it's loosening the rules in a couple of other ways.
Our Kim Bo-kyoung has the latest.
South Korea on Sunday reported another 657 cases of COVID-19,... the first time the figure's been in the 600-range in 23 days.
Of the new cases, 6-hundred-41 were local,... and 16 were imported from overseas.
The decrease is partly because fewer tests are being done over the New Year holiday weekend,... but the government also says there are a few positive signs showing that its strategy is working.
"Many people have adhered to the year-end and New Year's special measures,... so the disease control indices are gradually improving. The average number of daily new cases has decreased by more than one hundred,... and weekend movement is at the lowest it's been in two months."
The average number of daily new cases in the past week is 9-hundred-11,... so it's below the threshold of a thousand... that could trigger much stronger measures.
Adding on to that,... the reproduction index, or R rate, which is the number of people to whom each infected person passes the virus, has also gone down to one-point-one,... compared to one-point-four early last month.
If it goes below one, that indicates that the virus is under control.
To stay on that trajectory, the authorities have made some adjustments to the rules.
Level 2-point-5 distancing measures have been extended in the capital region for another two weeks,... until January 17th, while the rest of the country remains at Level 2.
This means, in the greater Seoul area, cafes can only do delivery and take-out, and people can dine in at restaurants only before 9 PM.
The authorities have also expanded the ban in Seoul on personal gatherings of five or more people to the entire country,... starting January 4th.
They're urging people to follow the rules... because the situation could change at any time, and the next two weeks will be critical to the fight.
Kim Bo-kyoung, Arirang News.