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(3rd LD) New virus cases fall below 50 for 2nd day, but vigilance urged

All Headlines 20:06 April 07, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in paras 4-6)

SEOUL, April 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported fewer than 50 new cases of the new coronavirus Tuesday for the second straight day, but health authorities warned against complacency.

South Korea has recorded around 100 or fewer daily new cases for more than three weeks, but health authorities still remain on high alert over cluster infections at churches and hospitals, as well as new cases coming from overseas.

A nurse with protective gear makes preparations at Dongsan Hospital in the virus-hit city of Daegu on April 6, 2020. (Yonhap)

The 47 new cases, detected Monday and unchanged from 47 new cases a day earlier, brought the nation's total infections to 10,331, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The nation's death toll from the coronavirus, which emerged in China late last year, rose by six to 192, although seven other fatalities have been reported for the day, but have not been included in the official tally that is released once a day.

One of the latest deaths involves a 44-year-old man, who became the first fatality reported in Seoul. The capital has reported some 580 confirmed coronavirus cases so far.

The public health agency said that around 100 more people made full recoveries from the virus on Monday, raising the total number of people released from quarantine and treatment to 6,694.

Yoon Tae-ho, a senior health ministry official, said this week's daily number is "positive," but warned that lax attitudes on social distancing could put the nation at risk of new cluster infections.

South Korea will take stricter actions against nightclubs, bars and other entertainment venues if they violate guidelines on social distancing, Yoon said.

The main hall of Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul is nearly vacant on April 6, 2020, as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seoul has suspended Masses since late February due to the coronavirus. (Yonhap)

Amid a steady rise in the number of people who violate self-isolation rules, the government is considering putting electronic wristbands on those who are self-isolated, Yoon said.

There are lingering concerns that people can spread the virus without knowing they are infected. KCDC Deputy Director Kwon Jun-wook said stricter guidelines on social distancing is the "strongest" containment measure against "silent" virus carriers.

Social distancing seems to be working for South Korea to keep the number of daily new infections below 50 this week, Kwon said.

Kwon renewed calls for people to stick with social distancing guidelines, saying, "If we make light of social distancing, an epidemic will be possible anytime."

Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, the nation's two worst-affected regions, reported 13 and one new cases, respectively, the KCDC said. The total number of cases reported in Daegu and the surrounding North Gyeongsang Province reached 6,794 and 1,317, respectively.

Other major provinces and cities also reported infections, with Seoul and the surrounding Gyeonggi Province adding four and 10 new cases, respectively.

The country also detected 14 new cases coming from overseas at border checkpoints, raising the country's total number of imported cases to 802.

Seeking to reduce the daily number of new infections below 50, South Korea extended stricter guidelines on social distancing by two weeks to April 19. South Korea has tested 477,304 people so far.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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