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S.Korea daily virus cases under 500 for first time since record highs in Dec -KDCA


SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea reported fewer than 500 new coronavirus infections on Monday for the first time since record high daily case numbers over the Christmas holiday period.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 451 new cases as of midnight on Sunday, driven by a lull in testing as well as an apparent easing in infections.

The country reported a record 1,241 cases in one day during the Christmas holiday, the peak of the country's largest wave of infections yet.

South Korea stopped short of a complete lockdown or stay-at-home order, but has imposed unprecedented restrictions for weeks, including banning private gatherings of more than four people.

In the capital Seoul and surrounding areas a number of high-risk businesses such as bars and gyms were ordered to close and coffee shops can only offer takeaway service.

The country employs aggressive tracing and testing which has allowed it to blunt successive waves of infections, though the latest surge threatens to overwhelm that system.

Overall South Korea has reported a total of 69,114 cases, with 1,140 deaths.

(Reporting by Sangmi Cha; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Michael Perry)

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