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S. Korea faces uptick in both local and imported virus cases

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

A surge in imported COVID-19 cases coming from overseas is again emerging as a threat to South Korea’s anti-virus fight as it struggles to put the virus sitaution stably under control.

Korea added 91 new coronavirus cases – 57 locally transmitted and 34 imported from overseas -- in the 24 hours ending midnight on Tuesday, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. The country’s daily COVID-19 count has remained in the double-digit range for six consecutive days.

As the second wave of the coronavirus is hitting many parts of the world hard, especially Europe, Korea saw the highest single-day increase in imported cases in 84 days on Wednesday, with 10 cases coming from France and eight cases from Russia.

Of Wednesday’s 34 imported cases, 12 cases were identified while the individuals were under mandatory self-quarantine in Korea, with the other 22 detected during the quarantine screening process at the border. A total of 19 cases were from elsewhere in Asia, 11 from Europe, three from the United States and one case from Senegal. Out of the imported cases, 25 involved foreign nationals.

Imported cases, however, are not considered as threatening as locally transmitted cases because they can be detected under health authorities’ monitoring. Currently, everyone traveling to Korea – regardless of their nationality -- is required to get tested for the coronavirus upon arrival and self-quarantine for 14 days even after testing negative for the virus.

Korea’s daily COVID-19 case count has hovered around 100 this month, with 58 cases posted Tuesday, 76 Monday and 91 Sunday.

Cases in connection with social gatherings and hospitals continue to rise.

Eight more people tested positive for the virus on Wednesday in connection with a gathering of friends in southern Seoul, with a total of 18 cases linked to the cluster.

Twenty-three more people tested positive for the coronavirus from a rehabilitation clinic in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, bringing the total of related infections there to 86.

Of Wednesday’s locally transmitted cases, the majority were from Greater Seoul -- 13 in Seoul, 21 in Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds the capital, and six in Incheon. Ten cases were registered in Busan, four in Daejeon, two in North Gyeongsang Province and one in Ulsan.

The proportion of cases where the infection routes were unknown fell to 13.2 percent for the past two weeks, according to the KDCA.

The number of COVID-19 patients in serious or critical condition here was 70 as of Wednesday.

Three more people died from the virus, bringing the total death toll to 450. The overall fatality rate is now 1.77 percent.

So far, of the 25,424 people confirmed to have contracted the new coronavirus here, 23,584 have been released from quarantine upon making full recoveries, up 118 from a day earlier. Some 1,390 people are receiving medical treatment under quarantine.

The country carried out 12,180 tests in the past day, with over 2.5 million tests conducted since Jan. 3. Some 19,493 people were awaiting results as of Wednesday. 

By Ock Hyun-ju (laeticia.ock@heraldcorp.com)

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