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(LEAD) Concerns over new infections grip capital area

All Headlines 12:04 March 30, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 7-10)

SEOUL, March 30 (Yonhap) -- New infections reported in the wider Seoul area surpassed those in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak here, on Monday, spurring concerns over transmission in the capital area that is home to half of the South Korean population.

New COVID-19 infections reported in Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon totaled 31, bringing the total number of cases in the metropolitan area to 947, according to data compiled by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

This marked the second straight day that the number of new infections in the capital surpassed that in the southeastern city of Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, where nearly 8,000 cases have been reported.

A total of 25 cases were reported in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, according to the KCDC data. The two areas also reported 25 new cases the previous day, while 42 cases were reported in the capital area.

Health authorities guide passengers arriving from London and Frankfurt at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on March 29, 2020. (Yonhap)

A majority of the recent cases reported in Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon, a port city just west of Seoul, are believed to be imported cases, as South Koreans living abroad flocked back to their home country to evade the contagious virus.

Around 70 percent of those who recently returned to the country are based in the wider Seoul metropolitan area, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Friday, stressing that containing the virus in the area would decide "winning or losing" the fight against the virus.

Separate data compiled by the Seoul Metropolitan Government showed that 121 of the estimated 434 patients in the country's capital are those associated with imported cases. This is so far the biggest source of infection identified among cases reported in the city.

Other major infection clusters in the city include a call center and a church, both located in the southwestern Seoul ward of Guro.

A total of 96 cases have been reported in relation to the call center, where outsourced workers reportedly worked in narrow booths in a packed office.

Another 20 cases trace to Manmin Central Church, where members of the fringe religious sect are believed to have held group meetings despite the government's social distancing advisory.

South Korea has reported 9,661 coronavirus cases so far, according to the KCDC data. A total of 158 have died, and 5,228 have been released after recovery.

mlee@yna.co.kr
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