South Korea’s daily new COVID-19 cases stayed below 100 for the third consecutive day, though authorities strive to bring the situation under control before the upcoming Chuseok holiday.
Korea reported 61 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday -- 51 locally transmitted and 10 imported -- according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun, who leads the country’s COVID-19 response, got tested for the coronavirus after one of his close aides tested positive earlier in the day, his office said Tuesday.
Chung received a negative test result.
It was the third consecutive day that the country’s daily count of new coronavirus cases was in the double-digit range since the resurgence of COVID-19 in the Seoul metropolitan area triggered by a Seoul-based church and a massive rally on Aug. 15.
Korea reported triple-digit numbers of new COVID-19 cases for 37 days in a row from Aug. 14 to Saturday, with a summer peak of 441 on Aug. 27.
“It is very difficult to find a country where resurgence of COVID-19 is contained without a lockdown, but only with phased social distancing and members of public’s voluntary efforts,” the KCDA’s deputy director Kwon Jun-wook said at a briefing Tuesday.
But he warned of a possible surge in COVID-19 infections over the Chuseok holiday, which runs from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4 this year, as more people are expected to travel across the country to meet family.
Health authorities are concerned about untraceable cases, which could mean a silent spread of the virus, as well as the high number of confirmed patients in their 60s or over and clusters of infections at workplaces.
Transmission routes were unidentified for 26.6 percent of the new cases reported Sept. 9-22, according to the disease control authority.
Clusters of infections related to workplaces continue to be reported.
A total of 71 people tested positive for the coronavirus in connection with two office buildings in southern Seoul.
Thirteen cases were traced to a public sauna in southwestern Seoul.
The number of cases linked to Seoul’s Severance Hospital reached 50 since the first case was registered Sept. 17.
Of Tuesday’s locally transmitted cases, the majority were in the Seoul metropolitan area -- 20 in Seoul, two in neighboring Incheon and 14 in Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds the capital.
Outside the Seoul metropolitan area, five cases were reported in Busan, four in North Gyeongsang Province, two each in Gangwon Province and North Chungcheong Province, and one each in Ulsan and South Gyeongsang Province.
Of the 10 imported cases, eight were identified while the individuals were under mandatory self-quarantine in Korea, with the other two detected during the quarantine screening process at the border. Five came from Asia, four from the United States and one from Turkey. Nine of these imported cases involved foreign nationals.
The number of COVID-19 patients in serious or critical condition rose to 144 as of midnight Tuesday, up three from the previous day.
Three more people died of the coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 388. The overall fatality rate sits at 1.68 percent.
So far, of the 23,106 people confirmed to have the new coronavirus, 20,441 have been released from quarantine upon making full recoveries, up 193 from a day earlier. Some 2,277 people are receiving medical treatment while under quarantine.
The country has carried out 2,245,112 tests since Jan. 3, with 23,222 people awaiting results as of Tuesday.
By Ock Hyun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org