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(LEAD) S. Korea reports 20 new virus cases amid efforts to contain sporadic infections

All News 11:05 May 22, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details throughout; CHANGES headline)

SEOUL, May 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported 20 more cases of the new coronavirus Friday as health officials are trying to contain sporadic group infections following mass spread of the virus tied to Seoul's nightlife district of Itaewon.

The new cases raised South Korea's total caseload to 11,142 and the nation's death toll remained unchanged at 264, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

Itaewon has emerged as a hotbed for infections as a 29-year-old man tested positive for COVID-19 on May 6 following his visits to multiple clubs and bars in Itaewon. At least 200 infections here have been connected to the man.

To avoid a second wave of infections, South Korea has been carrying out tens of thousands of tests on those who visited affected clubs between April 24 and May 6.

Building management workers carry out disinfection operations at a concert hall located in western Seoul on May 21, 2020. (Yonhap)

The number of imported cases rose by nine from a day earlier, reaching 1,200. More than 88 percent of such patients were South Korean nationals returning from overseas.

The fatality rate came to 2.37 percent. South Korea has not yet reported any deaths from patients aged 29 and younger.

The total number of people released from quarantine after full recoveries stood at 10,162, up 27 from the previous day. The latest figures indicate that more than 90 percent of confirmed patients have fully recovered from the virus.

South Korea has carried out tests on 802,418 people since Jan. 3, including 13,734 from a day earlier.

The health authorities say they remain vigilant over sporadic group infections across the nation, though they say it is safe to deem the club-linked cases as now being under control.

Earlier this week, four nurses at Samsung Medical Center, one of the country's five major general hospitals, tested positive. Exactly how they became infected with the COVID-19 virus was not immediately known, but authorities say they have not found connections to the clubgoers.

Dozens of high schools in Gyeonggi Province that surrounds Seoul ordered students to return home on Wednesday. Two high school students tested positive for COVID-19 in Incheon, in what could be infections tied to Itaewon.

Another vocational school, in Daegu, once the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Korea, also closed down on Thursday after a student in a dormitory tested positive.

South Korea, which normally starts the new school year in March, allowed high school seniors to return to classrooms on Wednesday, with a goal of having students of other grades gradually resume normal routines by early June.


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