S. Korea eases private gathering limit to 10 people and extends curfew to midnight

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The government currently expects the number of daily COVID-19 cases to increase by 10 to 20 percent without social distancing rules.

Son Young-rae, spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, also said on Friday that the decision not to scrap social distancing rules entirely is to minimize the rise in the number of critically ill patients and COVID-19 deaths.

Son added that the government will consider lifting all social distancing rules and other anti-virus measures next time if the pandemic situation improves under the newly adjusted rules, hinting that all rules except the indoor mask mandate could be lifted .

Meanwhile, the country added 280,273 daily COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours of Thursday, recording the number below 300,000 for the first time in four days, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. The total number of cases has reached 13,375,818.

However, the number of serious cases and deaths related to COVID-19 remained high.

As of Thursday, the country suffered 360 COVID-19 deaths, bringing the death toll from COVID-19 to 16,590. The mortality rate was 0.12 percent.

The number of critically ill patients totaled 1,299, down 16 from the record high of 1,315 reported a day earlier.

By Shim Woo-hyun

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