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(2nd LD) S. Korea reports no new local virus cases, vigilant against imported cases

All News 12:29 May 04, 2020

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

SEOUL, May 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported eight more cases of the new coronavirus on Monday, all of which came from overseas, as the country is set to further relax its monthslong social distancing guidelines amid a marked slowdown in new infections.

The newly added COVID-19 cases brought the nation's total infections to 10,801, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The latest tally marks the third day that the country has reported no locally transmitted virus infections, the KCDC said.

On April 30, the country reported no additional local virus cases for the first time in 72 days. On Saturday, there were also no domestic virus cases.

An army conscript disinfects a classroom at an elementary school in the southeastern city of Daegu on May 1, 2020, as part of efforts to prevent coronavirus infections among children. The country is preparing for the physical reopening of schools after weeks of online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Yonhap)

The slowdown in new infections prompted the country to end its 45-day long social distancing campaign and shift toward so-called everyday life quarantine scheme from Wednesday.

The country believes it has virtually contained the domestic COVID-19 outbreak, although imported cases linger as a threat.

Of the eight cases announced on Sunday, all of them were imported, raising the country's total number of such cases to 1,099, the KCDC said. More than 90 percent of the imported cases are South Korean nationals.

The government said it will review the issue of reopening kindergartens more carefully, citing that small children are more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Earlier, the government said it would soon announce dates for students to return to school in line with the country's relaxed social distancing guidelines.

"We should approach the issue of opening kindergartens more conservatively," Vice Health Minister Kim Ganglip told reporters.

An exhibition game between the Kiwoom Heroes and the Doosan Bears is under way at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on April 29, 2020. The game was played without spectators amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Yonhap)

The nation's death toll increased by two to 252, the KCDC said.

In total, 9,217 people in South Korea have recovered from the virus, up 34 from a day earlier. So far, 85 percent of the patients have been cured. The overall fatality rate reached 2.33 percent.

The country, with a population of around 50 million, has tested 633,921 people since Jan 3, including 2,948 tests carried out a day earlier.

Daegu, the nation's worst virus-hit region located 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, added no cases. The city accounts for 64 percent of the nation's total COVID-19 cases.

However, the KCDC said new COVID-19 cases whose infection routes have not been identified were clustered in Daegu.

"It is concerning that seven of the 10 patients in the past two weeks whose infection routes have not been identified were from Daegu," Kim said.

Kim further said the number indicates that it is still possible that there could be a group of patients who have not yet been detected by health authorities, indicating that there are still sources of infections in communities.

Health authorities said they are remaining vigilant over the holiday that runs through Tuesday, as many citizens are traveling across the country amid overseas travel restrictions.

Kim also asked citizens to follow social distancing and other quarantine measures on Children's Day that falls on Tuesday.

They have repeatedly warned of a potential second wave of infections, saying that eased social distancing could lead to an increase in new cases.

"Clinics solely responsible for respiratory disease will be opened so that we can systemically detect and treat patients from the early stage," Kim said.

khj@yna.co.kr
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