South Koreans cautious as mask mandate ends

Seoul, Jan 30 (EFE).- The majority of South Koreans continued to wear masks in public indoor spaces on Monday, the first day of the lifting of the mandate after more than two years.

At midnight, the government dropped the requirement to wear masks indoors with the exception of hospitals, pharmacies and on public transport, thus removing the country’s last pandemic restriction as cases continue to fall.

However, the majority of South Koreans preferred to keep their mask on in places such as cafes, crowded areas, offices and schools, and while waiting to board public transport.

The government had earlier considered approving this measure if two of four criteria were met – a downward trend in new infections, a drop in critically ill cases and deaths, strong medical response capabilities and a high vaccination rate among high-risk groups.

Seoul had considered whether to remove the mask requirement indoors after some municipalities expressed their intention to remove this requirement due to the fact that the South Korean population appears to have developed sufficient herd immunity to the virus.

South Korea, which continues to count daily Covid infections, on Monday reported 7,416 cases, the lowest in about seven months.

The country, with a population of about 51 million, has accumulated 30.1 million infections since the start of the pandemic and just over 33,300 deaths from the virus, with a mortality rate of 0.1 percent. EFE


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