(ATTN: ADDS official's remarks in paras 8-10)
SEOUL, April 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new coronavirus infections fell below 30 on Friday for the first time since Feb. 20, with the southeastern city of Daegu, once the nation's epicenter, reporting no new cases for the first time.
The 27 new cases, detected Thursday and down from 39 a day ago, brought the nation's total infections to 10,450, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
South Korea recorded around 50 or fewer daily new cases for a fifth day in a row, a sharp drop from the Feb. 29 peak of 909 new cases. But health authorities remain on high alert over cluster infections at churches and hospitals, as well as new cases coming from overseas.
The nation's death toll from the coronavirus, which emerged in China late last year, rose by four to 208, according to the KCDC. In total, 7,117 people in South Korea have recovered from the virus.
Vice Health Minister Kim Ganglip said three weeks of social distancing led to Daegu reporting no new cases, but resurgence could happen at anytime if people relax social distancing.
Kim renewed calls for people to practice social distancing over the Easter weekend and early voting for next week's parliamentary elections.
He said the daily number does not reflect the exact scale of the outbreak, so it would be "reckless" for people to gauge the situation by the daily tally.
KCDC Director-General Jeong Eun-kyeong said a total of 91 people who had been declared cured tested positive for the virus again, accounting for more than 1 percent of total recoveries.
Jeong has said there might have been a "reactivation" of the virus among the people, not "reinfection," because they tested positive soon after they were released from isolation facilities.
Health authorities have launched an investigation into the 91 people to determine whether they can spread the virus again, Jeong said.
The total number of cases reported in Daegu and the surrounding North Gyeongsang Province reached 6,807 and 1,327, respectively.
Other major provinces and cities also reported infections, with Seoul and the surrounding Gyeonggi Province adding five and nine new cases, respectively.
The country also detected four new cases coming from overseas at border checkpoints, raising the country's total number of imported cases to 869.
Seeking to reduce the daily number of new infections to below 50, South Korea has extended strict guidelines on social distancing by two weeks to April 19. South Korea has tested 503,051 people so far.
Livestreaming platform, another alternative tool for retailers in 'non-contact' era
Debate brews over expansion of employment insurance amid coronavirus outbreak
S. Korea shifts toward new normal of everyday quarantine but wary of 'blind spots'
With seasons on hold due to coronavirus, baseball and football leagues moving in opposite directions
S. Korea braces for long virus fight as total cases top 10,000