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(LEAD) New cases up again on cluster infections, imported cases

National 10:51 March 31, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; UPDATES throughout)

SEOUL, March 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported a slight uptick in new cases of the novel coronavirus Tuesday, driven by a steady rise in cluster infections and imported cases.

The 125 new cases, which were detected Monday and up from 78 new cases a day earlier, brought the nation's total infections to 9,786, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The country's death toll rose by four to 162, with more than half of fatalities being patients who are aged 80 or older.

Of the 125 new cases of COVID-19, 60 were in Daegu, the epicenter of the virus outbreak here, following mass infections at a hospital.

Other major provinces and cities also reported infections, with 24 additional cases in Seoul and 13 new infections in the surrounding Gyeonggi Province.

The country also detected 15 cases coming from overseas at quarantine checkpoints, raising the country's total number of imported cases to 518.

Health workers in protective suits enter Keimyung University Dongsan Hospital in Daegu on March 31, 2020. (Yonhap)

To better contain imported cases, South Korea will enforce a two-week mandatory quarantine on all entrants from overseas starting Wednesday.

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.

Amid persistent concerns over infections through so-called community spread, the government said online classes will start online April 9.

The new academic year here usually starts in early March, but the country already had postponed it three times over the spread of the novel coronavirus.

South Korea has been pushing for an extensive 15-day social distancing campaign since March 22 to stem small-scale cluster infections.

Entrants from Europe who have no COVID-19 symptoms board a bus bound for the KTX station in Gwangmyeong, south of Seoul, at the second terminal of Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on March 29, 2020. (Yonhap)

Citizens are strongly urged to stay home, except for essential needs or jobs. The government has also strongly recommended people suspend religious gatherings, indoor sports activities, and visits to nightclubs and other entertainment venues.

The KCDC said 5,408 patients have recovered as of Tuesday, up from 5,228 the previous day, and 4,216 are receiving treatment, down from 4,275 the previous day. A total of 383,886 people have tested negative for the virus out of 410,564 people tested since Jan. 3. The virus was first detected in the country on Jan. 20.


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