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(LEAD) Steady stream of imported cases continues: health authorities

All News 15:39 April 02, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in paras 4-7, 11)

SEOUL, April 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has continued to see a steady stream of new arrivals infected with the novel coronavirus as the country stepped up quarantine measures against entrants this week, public health authorities said Thursday.

Since Wednesday, all new arrivals have been required to undergo two weeks of self-isolation, as the country struggled to deal with a rise in imported cases.

On the first day of heightened screening for those who came into the country, 18 people tested positive for COVID-19, accounting for 20 percent of new cases reported on the day.

Health authorities said all 7,558 people who entered the country on Wednesday have been placed in isolation, with 235 showing coronavirus symptoms.

Since the first virus case emerged on Jan. 20, the country has reported 9,976 infections as of Wednesday, up 89 from the previous day, with 601, or 6 percent, of these cases coming from abroad.

For the capital city of Seoul, 90 percent of the 20 new cases confirmed Wednesday were linked to people who came from abroad and their immediate family members.

South Koreans who arrived on a chartered flight from Italy head to a virus screening area at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on April 1, 2020. (Yonhap)

Data showed that arrivals from abroad made up 30.5 percent of the 1,383 infections detected here in the March 18-31 period.

Earlier cases from overseas centered on people coming from China and other Asian nations, but more recently, those from Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa have been found to be infected with COVID-19.

The number of people arriving from North America infected with COVID-19 shot up this week, and South Korea implemented stricter quarantine measure last week for arrivals from the United States.

In addition to the mandatory two-week self-isolation, 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. The app also allows people to report their condition to public health workers.

People who do not abide by the quarantine rules could be slapped with a fine of up to 10 million won or jail term of up to a year, starting Sunday. Currently, violators could face a fine of up to 3 million won.


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