South Korea’s new coronavirus cases stayed above 100 for the third straight day Friday due to continued rises in sporadic cluster infections, putting the country’s virus fight to the test ahead of a major holiday.
The country added 114 more COVID-19 cases, including 95 local infections, raising the total caseload to 23,455, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
It marked a fall from 125 new cases reported Thursday but stayed higher than 110 cases Wednesday. Daily infections fell to double digits for the third day in a row Tuesday.
The country’s new virus cases had been in the triple digits for more than a month since Aug. 14, due to cases tied to a church and a political rally, with new cases soaring to 441 on Aug. 27.
New COVID-19 cases have been on a slowing trajectory on the back of tougher virus curbs, but they have been not easily brought down under 100, the target set by health authorities.
The country’s virus fight stands at a critical juncture ahead of the Chuseok fall harvest holiday, which runs from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4. Millions of South Koreans travel across the nation to meet their families and relatives during Chuseok.
The country set the two weeks starting Sept. 28 as a special period for strong nationwide antivirus efforts. Later in the day, it will unveil details about quarantine guidelines during the holiday.
During the holiday, the government plans to strengthen quarantine measures at facilities, including restaurants and theaters, in the densely populated Seoul area. The operation of bars and clubs outside the capital region will be restricted for a week.
South Korea is currently imposing the Level 2 social distancing guidelines across the nation in its three-tier scheme. At the current level, indoor gatherings of 50 or more people are banned, and outdoor meetings of 100 or more people are also prohibited.
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Of the newly identified local infections, 56 cases were reported in Seoul and 26 in Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital. Incheon, west of Seoul, reported one more case.
Other municipalities reported new infections, with the southeastern port city of Busan adding two cases and North Gyeongsang Province reporting four new cases.
Sporadic cluster infections continued to pop up across the nation. Cases traced to Yonsei Severance Hospital came to 58 as of noon Thursday. Infections tied to a psychiatric hospital located in Goyang, north of Seoul, reached 39.
The country, meanwhile, reported 19 imported cases, with eight coming from Uzbekistan and three from the Philippines. The total imported cases came to 3,149.
South Korea reported two additional deaths, raising the death toll to 395. The fatality rate was 1.68 percent.
The number of seriously or critically ill COVID-19 patients came to 128 as of midnight, up two from the previous day.
The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries stood at 20,978, up 146 from the previous day.
The country has carried out 2,280,276 coronavirus tests since Jan. 3.
SOURCE: The Korea Herald