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(LEAD) Virus infections near 10,000 as cluster, imported cases keep rising

All News 11:07 April 02, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; ADDS details throughout, photo; REPLACES 1st photo)

SEOUL, April 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea again saw a slight decline in new coronavirus cases Thursday, though the country remains wary of cluster infections and imported cases.

The 89 new cases of COVID-19, detected Wednesday and down from 101 new cases a day earlier, brought the country's total cases to 9,976. It marked the 21st 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 nation's death toll rose by four to 169, with more than half of fatalities being patients aged 80 or older.

Firefighters and rescue officials gesture to one another as they return to their bases after being mobilized to Daegu to help fight the coronavirus in the city on April 2, 2020. (Yonhap)

Of the 89 new cases of COVID-19, 21 were in Daegu, the epicenter of the virus outbreak here, following mass infections at hospitals, while the surrounding North Gyeongsang Province reported two new cases.

The total number of cases reported in Daegu and the surrounding North Gyeongsang Province reached 6,725 and 1,304, respectively.

Other major provinces and cities also reported infections, with Seoul and the surrounding Gyeonggi Province adding 14 and 17 cases, respectively, as they reported cluster infections at churches and hospitals.

The country's total number of imported cases reached 601, up from 560 the previous day, with 18 new cases detected at quarantine checkpoints.

Starting Wednesday, South Korea has required all arrivals to self-quarantine for two weeks to stem new coronavirus cases coming from abroad.

Visitors without local addresses are to stay in government-designated facilities at their own expense. All people in isolation must install a mobile app that allows authorities to monitor them in real time and ensure they are following the rules.

South Korea has vowed no leniency toward those who breach quarantine rules. Starting Sunday, violators could face one year in jail or a fine of up to 10 million won (US$8,000). Foreigners could be expelled if they break quarantine rules.

Campaigners for Ko Min-jung, a candidate of the ruling Democratic Party, ask for voters' support while wearing masks on a street in Seoul on April 2, 2020. (Yonhap)

In the face of community spread of the virus, South Korea has been pushing for an extensive 15-day social distancing campaign since March 22.

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.

On Tuesday, the country pushed back the new school year to April 9, with the introduction of online classes. The opening of kindergartens and child care centers has been delayed indefinitely.

The KCDC said 5,828 patients have recovered as of Thursday, up from 5,567 the previous day, and 3,979 are receiving treatment, down from 4,155 the previous day.

The country has conducted virus tests on 431,743 people since Jan. 3. The virus was first detected in the country on Jan. 20.


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