South Korea announced 397 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, marking the highest daily increase since March 7, as the novel coronavirus is rapidly spreading throughout the country beyond the greater Seoul area.
Of the new cases, 387 were locally transmitted and 10 were imported from overseas, with the total caseload at 17,399, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Korea’s daily new cases exceeded 300 again Sunday for the third consecutive day, with infections reported in all cities and provinces except Jeju Island, Sejong, and North Jeolla Province.
The number of daily infections has been in the triple digits since Aug. 14 when 103 new cases were reported, mostly traced to a Seoul-based church at the center of the country’s resurgence of COVID-19. Over the past 10 days alone, 2,629 cases have been registered.
Of locally transmitted cases, the overwhelming majority were registered in the Greater Seoul area — 138 in Seoul and 124 in Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds the capital. Incheon saw 32 new cases. In a sign of the virus spreading rapidly beyond the greater Seoul area, cases were reported in other major cities and provinces – 15 each in Gangwon Province, Gwangju and Daejeon, 14 in South Jeolla Province, 10 in South Chungcheong Province, eight in South Gyeongsang Province, six in Daegu, three each in Ulsan, North Chungcheong Province, two each in Busan and North Gyeongsang Province.
Transmission routes for 20.2 percent of the new cases reported for the past two weeks were unidentified, marking the highest rate so far. At the center of the resurgence of the virus in Korea are the Sarang Jeil Church and the Aug. 15 massive rally held in central Seoul. The number of cases traced to the Seoul-based church and the rally was 796 and 104, respectively, as of Saturday noon, according to the KCDC.
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As health authorities see this weekend as the last opportunity to contain a larger nationwide outbreak, they expanded tightened social distancing rules outside the greater Seoul area starting Sunday. Under the level two of the three-tier social distancing system, 12 types of high-risk businesses such as nightclubs, karaoke rooms, and Internet cafes must be shut down. Gatherings of more than 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors are banned.
All beaches around the country were closed starting midnight, weeks earlier than scheduled. Of the 10 imported cases, six were identified while the individuals were under mandatory self-quarantine in Korea, with the other four detected during the quarantine screening process at the border. Six of the newly diagnosed people were foreign nationals. Nine came from Asia and one from Europe.
So far, 14,200 people, or 81.61 percent, have been released from quarantine upon making full recoveries, up 31 from a day earlier. Some 2,890 people are receiving medical treatment under quarantine. Thirty people remain in serious or critical condition.
The death toll remains unchanged at 309. The overall fatality rate amounted to 1.78 percent — 2.08 percent for men and 1.53 percent for women — as of Sunday. The fatality rate is 22.9 percent for those in their 80s or over and 7.72 percent for those in their 70s. The country has carried out 1,791,186 tests since Jan. 3, with 47,564 people awaiting results as of Sunday.
Source: The Korea Herald