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(LEAD) S. Korea reports fewer than 15 virus cases for 4th day

All News 12:00 April 22, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; UPDATES with more info throughout; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, April 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported fewer than 15 new cases of the novel coronavirus for the fourth day in a row on Wednesday, but health authorities still remain wary of an increase in new infections amid the eased social distancing campaign.

The country detected 11 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, bringing the nation's total infections to 10,694, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). The total number came to 10,694.

Six of the newly added cases were imported, the data showed.

Cheerleaders perform during an exhibition game between the Kiwoom Heroes and the SK Wyverns in Incheon, west of Seoul, on April 21, 2020. The game was played without spectators amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Yonhap)

The country announced a single-digit increase in cases Sunday for the first time in two months at eight, followed by 13 cases the following day and nine on Tuesday.

The plateauing figures mark a drastic drop from the Feb. 29 peak of 909 new cases. The country confirmed its first COVID-19 infection on Jan. 20.

Seoul said it has formed a task force composed of various government agencies to systemically deal with requests from other countries asking for quarantine tips.

"The task force will unify a single channel in sharing our quarantine experience and supporting demands from the international community," Yoon Tae-ho, a senior health ministry official, told reporters.

A total of some 40 countries have recently sought help from local health authorities on quarantine measures, the government said. Seoul has already shipped test kits to more than 60 countries, including some of the most hard-hit countries such as Italy.

The nation's death toll from the coronavirus, which emerged in China late last year, rose by one to 237, the health authorities said.

In total, 8,277 patients in South Korea have recovered from the virus, up from 8,213 a day earlier.

The number of new infections continued to slow in the southeastern city of Daegu, the nation's worst virus-hit region that accounts for around 64 percent of the total cases, adding just one additional case.

A banner along a street in the Hongdae neighborhood of western Seoul urges people to maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, on April 21, 2020. The Hongdae area is famous for its youthful atmosphere and is a center of Seoul's urban art and indie music culture. (Yonhap)

Seoul, the most populous city of South Korea, reported two new cases, with the surrounding Gyeonggi Province reporting no COVID-19 infections.

In regards to possible infection cases connected to general elections held last week, the health authorities said there has not yet been a single reported case.

On April 15, South Korea became the first major country to successfully hold nationwide polls since the COVID-19 crisis began sweeping the globe.

Starting Monday, South Korea applied a relaxed social distancing advisory to some facilities, including gyms and cram schools, as the number of new COVID-19 infections here showed clear signs of slowing down.

South Korea announced it will maintain the social distancing drive until May 5, but it will ease some rules under the condition that such facilities comply with safety measures.

"Individuals must still follow social distancing rules during their everyday life," Yoon said, urging people to stay at home for at least three days without going to work when they are feeling sick.


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