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(2nd LD) Virus recovery rate tops 70 pct as new infections markedly slow down

All News 16:50 April 12, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details and background in last 8 paras)

SEOUL, April 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new coronavirus cases stayed around 30 for the second straight day Sunday, and the recovery rate of its virus patients topped 70 percent since its first case in late January.

The country reported 32 more cases of COVID-19, bringing the nation's total infections to 10,512, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

Members of a Christian church attend an Easter service at a parking lot in southern Seoul on April 12, 2020, as part of efforts to stem the spread of the new coronavirus. (Yonhap)

Sunday's tally marked 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 three to 214, according to the KCDC.

The number of patients released from quarantine after making full recoveries reached 7,368, up 125 from a day earlier. The country's recovery rate of COVID-19 patients stood at 70.1 percent.

Of the newly confirmed cases, 24, or 75 percent, came from overseas.

The southeastern city of Daegu, the nation's worst virus-hit region, added two new cases. Its surrounding North Gyeongsang Province reported three new cases.

The total number of cases reported in Daegu and the surrounding North Gyeongsang Province reached 6,816 and 1,335, respectively.

This photo, taken on April 12, 2020, shows a pastor holding an online Easter service, with photos of believers on chairs, at a church in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province. (Yonhap)

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

The country also detected 18 new cases coming from overseas at border checkpoints.

Since April 1, South Korea has been enforcing mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for all travelers coming from overseas to better contain imported cases.

South Korea has extended strict guidelines on social distancing by two weeks to next Sunday as it seeks to reduce the daily number of new infections to below 50.

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, health authorities have made it obligatory for all arrivals from the United States to be tested for COVID-19 within three days of self-isolation, starting Monday.

Since late March, all arrivals from the U.S. have been required to self-quarantine for two weeks, but they have undergone the tests only if they show symptoms, such as a fever and cough.

A Ferris wheel in Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, is lit up on April 11, 2020. The ride was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak soon after its launch in January, but it resumed operations last week. (Yonhap)

The strengthened measure comes as confirmed cases coming from the U.S. have increased steadily, according to the KCDC.

The number of people who fully recovered from the new coronavirus but tested positive after they were released from quarantine has reached 111 in South Korea, the KCDC said.

The KCDC said it is looking into whether those who retested positive have an antibody that would indicate whether they have recovered, as some health experts have said people with the antibody are not contagious.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun has renewed calls for citizens to keep up social distancing efforts to contain the new coronavirus, as an uptick in springtime tourists and Easter services were feared to have weakened the nationwide antivirus campaign.

Public health officials have warned against complacency amid progress in the nation's efforts to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections.

Chung has voiced concerns over growing signs that the social distancing campaign is being loosened, particularly at tourist attractions, though daily new infections have hovered around 30.


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