South Korea will soon begin to see the impact of eased antivirus restrictions, health authorities said Tuesday, as it saw double-digit gains in the daily count of new COVID-19 cases for a fifth consecutive day.
Korea added 58 new coronavirus cases -- 41 locally transmitted and 17 imported from overseas -- in the 24 hours ending midnight on Monday, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
“So far, the coronavirus situation is showing a stable trend. But it is about time we will begin to see the impact of the Level 1 social distancing rules,” Kwon Jun-wook, KDCA’s deputy director, said at a briefing Tuesday.
Korea lifted most antivirus restrictions, except for mandatory mask-wearing in many parts of the country, on Oct. 11 as the country saw no surge in infections despite back-to-back holidays in late September and early October.
Tuesday’s tally is a drop from 76 posted for the previous 24-hour period.
Sporadic outbreaks, however, continue to pop up in connection with social gatherings and hospitals across the country.
A new cluster of infections was detected from a gathering of friends in southern Seoul, as 10 people had tested positive for the virus as of Tuesday. The first case was reported Thursday.
In Suwon, eight people had contracted the virus from a family gathering since the first case was reported Friday.
Four more people tested positive for the coronavirus in connection with a rehabilitation clinic in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, bringing the total of related infections there to 63. The first case tied to the clinic was reported Friday.
From a hospital in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi Province, seven more people tested positive despite the hospital being placed under cohort isolation. A total of 70 cases have been traced to the hospital so far.
In Busan, seven more people tested positive from a nursing facility, bringing the total related cases to 81, according to the tally by the Busan city government.
Of Tuesday’s locally transmitted cases, the majority were from Greater Seoul -- 11 in Seoul, 22 in Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds the capital, and three in Incheon. Two cases were registered in Gangwon Province, with one each in Dajeon, Busan and South Chungcheong Province.
The proportion of cases where the infection routes were unknown fell to 13.7 percent for the past two weeks, according to the KDCA.
As many countries around the world battle resurgences of the coronavirus, Korea is also seeing a growing number of imported cases coming from overseas.
On Tuesday, 17 imported cases were reported, 14 of which were identified while the individuals were under mandatory self-quarantine in Korea, with the other three detected during the quarantine screening process at the border.
Two cases were from China, three were from elsewhere in Asia and three were from Europe. Eight cases were from the Americas -- including seven from the United States -- and one case was from Africa. Out of the 17 cases, 14 involved foreign nationals.
The number of COVID-19 patients in serious or critical condition here was 71 as of Tuesday.
Three more people died from the virus, bringing the total death toll 447. The overall fatality rate is now 1.76 percent.
So far, of the 25,333 people confirmed to have contracted the new coronavirus here, 23,466 have been released from quarantine upon making full recoveries, up 98 from a day earlier. Some 1,420 people are receiving medical treatment under quarantine.
The country carried out 12,085 tests in the past day, with over 2.49 million tests conducted since Jan. 3. Some 19,397 people were awaiting results as of Tuesday.
By Ock Hyun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org)