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Infections linked to homeless shelters at Seoul Station

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)
Facilities for homeless people at Seoul Station were temporarily shut down Tuesday after coronavirus infections were traced there, according to the Seoul city government.

Three homeless people and two employees linked to the homeless support center and emergency shelter at Seoul Station Plaza had tested positive for the coronavirus as of Tuesday, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

Since the first case was reported Jan. 17, some 25 people had been hospitalized or gone into isolation for self-quarantine as of Tuesday.

An epidemiological inspection is underway to find out how they got infected.
The operation of the facilities was suspended until Friday.

Booths offering counseling services on streets in the area will still be open, distributing face masks and other winter items such as clothing as well as offering information on COVID-19 testing and locations of shelters.

Counseling via phone is also available at (02) 1600-9582 around the clock, according to the city government.

Located at the heart of the country’s capital, Seoul Station is home to many homeless people. The facilities at Seoul Station Plaza are capable of housing some 70 people.

A series of coronavirus infections affecting the homeless are leading to the closure of shelters in the city or limits on the number of people they accept, dealing a blow to homeless people seeking refuge from the freezing weather.

The city government is offering about 855 emergency beds at 10 locations, including the homeless support centers at Seoul Station and Yeongdeungpo Station, during the period of Nov. 15 to March 16.

The daily average number of those who used the beds was 555 when cold wave warnings were issued from Jan. 5-11 and from Jan. 15-17, according to the city government.

On Tuesday, Korea announced 354 more COVID-19 cases, including 338 locally transmitted infections, raising the total number of cases to date to 75,875, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

The third wave of COVID-19 infections here appears to be stabilizing after the daily coronavirus tally reached a peak on Dec. 25 with a record high of 1,241 cases.

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