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(2nd LD) S. Korea reports 23 new virus cases, concerns linger over Itaewon-linked infections

All Headlines 14:07 May 23, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS Gyeonggi Province's ban on entertainment facilities, more info in last 4 paras, photo)

SEOUL, May 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported 23 more cases of the new coronavirus Saturday amid stepped-up efforts to slow the spread of the infections linked to nightlife spots in Seoul's multicultural district of Itaewon.

The new COVID-19 infections raised the country's total caseload to 11,165, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said, adding that two patients died of the virus, bringing the death toll to 266.

The number of new virus cases has grown over the past couple of days due to continued infections tied to Itaewon clubs and bars.

Since May 6 when a 29-year-old man tested positive for the virus following his visits to multiple entertainment facilities in Itaewon, more than 200 cases here have been connected to the man so far.

The southeastern city of Daegu, once the epicenter of the coronavirus in South Korea, also reported its first case linked to Itaewon on Saturday.

Of the 23 newly reported cases, 19 were community infections, and four were imported cases, according to the KCDC.

The fatality rate came to 2.38 percent, it added. South Korea has not yet reported any deaths from patients aged 29 or younger.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries stood at 10,194, up 32 from the previous day, the authorities said.

Applicants for this year's school qualification examination have their temperatures checked at a middle school in Seoul on May 23, 2020. The exam for a general equivalency diploma was supposed to be held in April but was delayed twice due to the coronavirus. (Yonhap)

The continued spread of the outbreak put the health authorities on alert, as South Korea is gearing up for another round of school reopenings Wednesday.

Following the resumption of in-person classes for high school seniors this past Wednesday, younger students -- second grade of high schools, third grade of middle schools, first and second grades of elementary schools, and kindergartens -- are to return to class this coming Wednesday after months of delay.

"We will further beef up our national emergency response system in the runup to the planned resumption of classes," Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said during a meeting earlier in the day.

The Gyeonggi provincial government extended its "no-assembly" order for entertainment facilities for another two weeks until June 7 to stem the spread of the coronavirus through such places.

The local government first imposed the administrative order on May 10, which calls for banning all such spots for adults, including clubs and cabarets. Under the order issued on the day, several other types of entertainment facilities, such as "coin noraebang," or coin-operated karaoke rooms, also had their businesses suspended.

Similar administrative measures have been in effect in Seoul and its adjacent city of Incheon following infections from those closed venues.

South Korea has carried out tests on 814,420 people since Jan. 3, and 21,569 citizens are awaiting their test results, the KCDC noted.

A taxi company official disinfects a vehicle in the western city of Incheon on May 22, 2020. The number of taxi users has reportedly decreased over the past several days after a taxi driver in the city recently tested positive for the coronavirus. (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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