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(2nd LD) S. Korea on alert over yet another cluster infection amid eased social distancing

All News 11:41 May 08, 2020

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SEOUL, May 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported 12 more cases of the new coronavirus Friday, most of which came from overseas, while it remains vigilant over yet another cluster infection in the capital city.

Eleven of the newly added cases detected Thursday were imported, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), bringing the nation's total infections to 10,822 amid relaxed social distancing.

The tally marked new daily cases of more than 10 for the first time in five days.

But health authorities said they detected 13 more cases Friday, all of which were linked to a virus patient who visited three clubs in Seoul's popular multicultural neighborhood of Itaewon on Saturday.

South Korea usually announces only its official tally detected a day earlier at 10:00 a.m.

"It is highly likely that there are more cases down the road," Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said, urging people who have visited clubs in Itaewon on early Saturday to stay home and contact authorities when they have symptoms of the COVID-19 virus.

At least 1,500 people are estimated to have visited the clubs, according to health authorities.

The entrance of a club located in a multicultural neighborhood of Itaewon is closed on May 8, 2020. A virus patient was earlier found to have visited several clubs in the district a day earlier, raising concerns over possible community transmission. (Yonhap)

Imported cases also continued to outpace domestic infections, as South Koreans residing overseas have been returning home amid the global pandemic.

The country has detected 1,118 imported cases so far, with more than 90 percent of the patients being South Korean nationals.

Starting Wednesday, South Korea gave the go-ahead to the normalization of public facilities and other business establishments under the condition that they follow basic sanitation measures.

Preparations to reopen schools next week are under way. High school seniors will return to school Wednesday, while students in all other grades will go back by June 1.

The nation's death toll remained unchanged at 256, the KCDC said.

The overall fatality rate reached 2.37 percent. The rate for patients aged 80 and above stood at 25 percent, the KCDC said.

In total, 9,484 people in South Korea have recovered from the virus, up 65 from a day earlier, which means nearly 88 percent of the patients here have been cured.

South Korea has been carrying out tests on 654,863 people since Jan. 3, including 5,475 from a day earlier.

Health authorities, however, emphasize that the downward trend of new infections does not indicate that the country has fully eradicated the pandemic.

South Korea remains concerned over possible cluster infections from the holiday that ran from April 30 through Tuesday, as many South Koreans made short trips across the nation.

The incubation period of the COVID-19 virus is roughly two weeks.

With a second wave of the pandemic anticipated to hit the country hard again later this year, health authorities say people will need to continue wearing protective masks and following guidelines.

Soldiers of an Army unit in Chuncheon, northeast of Seoul, leave their base on May 8, 2020, as they are allowed to go on vacation after more than two months of restrictions amid fears about the spread of the new coronavirus. (Yonhap)

colin@yna.co.kr
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