The government emphasized Wednesday that it is important to follow quarantine rules during the summer vacation period as there is a possibility of a resurgence of Covid-19.
"We view this summer as an important time that can serve as a fuse for reigniting the pandemic,” Vice Health and Welfare Minister Lee Ki-il said.
As this summer is the first vacation season since the government lifted distancing rules on April 18, the government expects many people to enjoy it here and abroad, leading to massive movements of tourists, officials said.
Even last summer, when the government maintained most Covid-19 restrictions, the government confirmed more than 1,000 cases per day, which later led to the fourth viral wave. Cluster infections occurred at multi-use facilities, such as cafes, department stores, and resorts, where visitors frequently visited during the holiday season.
Health officials recommended that unvaccinated people receive at least three vaccination shots and older adults 60 and older eligible get the second booster shot before traveling this summer.
"The number of confirmed cases is decreasing daily, but lowering our guard can become a shortcut to a resurgence of Covid-19," Lee said. "In the event of a resurgence of Covid-19, the government will do its best to respond promptly."
On Wednesday, Korea's new virus cases stayed below 10,000 for 13 consecutive days.
Korea added 8,992 Covid-19 infections, including 106 cases from overseas, bringing the total caseload to 18,298,341, the KDCA said.
It reported 11 more Covid-19 deaths, raising the death toll to 24,474. The fatality rate stood at 0.13 percent. The number of critically ill patients came to 64, down from 68 the previous day, the KDCA said.
Officials, noting that the increase in the cooling machine could speed up indoor infections, called for sticking to ventilation rules at home and public facilities.
“The novel coronavirus can float in the air for a long time in the form of aerosol to spread to 10 meters or more,” Lee said. “The use of air-conditioners in closed space can heighten the possibility of infections through the air.”
Health authorities predicted the slowing pace in the Omicron spread has reached its limit, and the virus curve will maintain the current level for quite some time.
"Although the virus wave is slowing, the pace of the slowdown has also been weakening, so we expect that the current virus trend will continue without a further slowdown," Son Young-rae, a senior health ministry official, said.
As of Wednesday, 44.61 million, or 86.9 percent of the population, had completed the full two-dose vaccinations, and 33.35 million, or 65 percent, had received their first booster shots.
About 4.3 million people, or 8.4 percent of the population, had gotten their second booster shots, according to the KDCA.
Meanwhile, Korea confirmed its first monkeypox case on Wednesday from a Korean national who returned from Germany earlier this week.
The unidentified individual was one of the two people quarantined after showing relevant symptoms, like a sore throat, rash, fever, and exhaustion.
While the second person, a foreigner who arrived here on Monday, has tested negative, it has raised concern among the public after news reports revealed that the foreigner was able to pass the airport quarantine process by falsely reporting that he had no symptoms.
As a result, the KDCA plans to designate a quarantine management area for monkeypox in the second half of the year to strengthen the monitoring of overseas inflows and raise fever standards in countries where outbreaks occur frequently.
Health officials also plan to increase the rate of voluntary submission of health status questionnaires from inbound travelers.
"Following the Quarantine Act, a person who reports a false health status questionnaire could be punished with imprisonment of less than one year, or a fine of 10 million won at maximum," said Lim Sook-young, a senior official at the Central Disease Control Headquarters.
Monkeypox is an acute fever and rash disease caused by a virus infection. Rodents are the main carriers of infection, and the virus mainly transmits through close contact with symptomatic infected patients.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the fatality rate of monkeypox in recent years stands at a hardly negligible level of 3-6 percent.