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(2nd LD) Nearly half of new virus cases reported in capital area, raising alert

All News 14:57 April 03, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 4-9, photo; RECASTS headline)

SEOUL, April 3 (Yonhap) -- Almost half of the new virus cases reported in South Korea on Friday were those in Seoul and surrounding areas, raising concerns over mass transmission in the area that is home to half of the country's population.

The country reported 86 new cases, bringing the total number of infections to 10,062, according to the data by the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

Of the new cases, 42 were reported in Seoul, nearby Gyeonggi Province and Incheon, west of Seoul. Gyeonggi Province added 23 cases, while Seoul and Incheon reported 18 cases and one case, respectively.

This photo, provided by the Seoul metropolitan government, shows taxi drivers at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, waiting to drive international arrivals to the capital on April 3, 2020. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE)(Yonhap)

In Gyeonggi, which reported the biggest number of new cases in the capital area, infections linked to Uijeongbu St. Mary's Hospital rose to 27, the KCDC said. The hospital reported its first case on March 29.

Additional cases were also reported in major cluster infections in Seoul. The city government's data showed that two new cases were reported in relation to Manmin Central Church, a fringe religious church in the southwestern ward of Guro, bringing the total number of cases there to 38.

The KCDC said the number rises to 45 when including patients out of Seoul who contracted the virus from church followers at homes or workplaces.

Two new cases were also reported in relation to a call center, also in Guro, bringing the total number of cases there to 98. The call center at a 19-story building in Guro is the biggest cluster infection identified in the capital.

Imported cases also continued to soar, with around 70 percent of people arriving on international flights known to live in the capital area.

A total of 38 new imported cases were reported nationwide Friday, bringing the total to 647. Imported cases in Seoul, Gyeonggi and Incheon reached 282, around one-third of 1,119 cases in the three areas.

This photo, taken March 23, 2020, shows a woman passing by the Korea Building in the southwestern Seoul ward of Guro. A cluster infection occurred at a call center at the building. (Yonhap)

The latest figures raise concern over the pandemic further affecting the capital area where the presidential office, foreign and defense ministries as well as key corporate headquarters are located.

South Korea has issued a 14-day social distancing advisory, closed schools and tightened quarantine measures against international arrivals in its efforts to contain the virus.

The Seoul city government said that all international arrivals who are based in the city will be subject to mandatory screening starting Friday. The city runs taxi and bus services for people arriving from abroad and is set to install a mass walkthrough screening center at a former Olympics venue.

mlee@yna.co.kr
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