South Korea’s daily new coronavirus cases stayed below 100 for the second consecutive day Monday in what could be a sign of a slowdown in new infections, but the continued high number of untraceable cases and sporadic clusters pose challenges to the country’s virus fight.
The country added 70 more COVID-19 cases, including 55 local infections, raising the total caseload to 23,045, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
On Sunday, the number of daily new infections fell below 100 for the first time in 38 days at 82.
The country’s new daily infections had been in the triple digits since Aug. 14 due to cases tied to a church in Seoul and an anti-government rally.
Despite a slight decline, the government on Sunday opted to extend nationwide virus curbs for another week on concerns that the spread of the virus may worsen again during the upcoming Chuseok holiday.
The Level 2 social distancing scheme, which has been under way since late August, will be extended to Sept. 27, as untraceable cases, coupled with cluster infections, have lingered ahead of Chuseok, the autumn harvest celebration.
South Korea operates a three-tier social distancing system. Under the second level, all indoor gatherings of 50 or more people are banned, while the ceiling is 100 for outdoor meetings.
The measures also call for limiting the operations of so-called high-risk facilities, such as bars and karaoke rooms. Public facilities, such as museums and libraries, will be closed for another week as well.
Large-sized facilities that are allowed to operate will need to keep entry logs of all visitors and make sure that they maintain a safe distance.
Of the additional locally transmitted cases, 21 came from Seoul, and 18 were reported from the surrounding Gyeonggi Province. Incheon, located west of Seoul, added just one more patient.
Infections tied to last month’s anti-government rallies came to 616 as of Sunday.
Cases tied to production lines of Kia Motors Corp. in Gyeonggi Province reached 18. A gym located in southern Seoul reported seven additional patients, raising the related caseload to eight as of Sunday.
A psychiatric hospital located in the north of Seoul added five more related patients, raising the total to 24.
Cases with unknown transmission routes accounted for 27.4 percent of all cases reported in the past two weeks, according to the latest data provided Sunday. Cluster infections also accounted for 26 percent of the newly added cases over the period.
The country has been struggling to avoid the highest level of social distancing, which would include banning gatherings of 10 or more people. This would have a severe impact on the nation’s economy.
The number of patients in serious or critical condition came to 141, down five from the previous day.
The number of imported cases came to 15.
The death toll rose by two to 385.
A total of 20,248 people have been released from quarantine after making full recoveries, up 90 from the previous day.
SOURCE: The Korea Herald