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(LEAD) New infections again on slide, but Seoul still on alert over clusters, imported cases

All News 10:50 March 30, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with more info throughout)

SEOUL, March 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea saw a slight decline in new coronavirus cases Monday, but cluster infections in Seoul and the surrounding area continued to emerge, coupled with a continued rise in cases involving arrivals from overseas.

The 78 new cases of COVID-19, detected Sunday and down from 105 new cases a day earlier, marked the 18th consecutive day that new infections have hovered around 100 or fewer additional cases, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). The death toll rose by six to 158.

Few people are seen at Myeongdong Cathedral in downtown Seoul on March 29, 2020, amid a social distancing campaign to prevent the further spread of the new coronavirus. (Yonhap)

Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, the nation's two worst-affected regions, reported 14 and 11 new cases, respectively, the KCDC said.

Other major provinces and cities also reported infections, with 31 additional cases in Seoul and the surrounding region.

Seoul reported 16 new cases, partly due to mass infections at a church in the Guro district that has emerged as a new hotspot of cluster infections in the capital city.

The Seoul city government said at least 22 COVID-19 patients have been so far linked to the church as of Sunday.

The government earlier said starting Wednesday, it will enforce a two-week mandatory quarantine on all entrants from overseas in a drastic move to curb a steady rise in imported cases.

Under the new measure, all arrivals to the country regardless of nationality are required to stay in isolation for 14 days. Visitors without local addresses are to stay in government-designated facilities at their own expense.

South Korea is already enforcing both a two-week quarantine period and virus tests for all long-term arrivals from Europe, regardless of symptoms. Entrants from the United States have also been required to self-isolate at home for two weeks.

(LEAD) New infections again on slide, but Seoul still on alert over clusters, imported cases - 2

Amid persistent concerns over infections through so-called community spread, the education ministry is likely to soon announce a further extension of school breaks.

The new school year for child care centers, kindergartens and schools across the country usually begins in early March, but the date has been tentatively postponed to April 6.

So far, 5,228 patients have recovered, and 4,275 are receiving treatment. A total of 372,002 people have tested negative for the virus out of 395,194 people tested since Jan. 3. The virus was first detected in the country on Jan. 20.


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