Eight more COVID-19 cases linked to Coupang logistics center
INCHEON/BUCHEON, South Korea, May 26 (Yonhap) -- Health authorities on Tuesday confirmed eight more coronavirus cases linked to a logistics center of Coupang, the country's leading e-commerce operator, bringing the center's total infection tally to 11.
The uptick in COVID-19 cases related to the facility in Bucheon, west of Seoul, raised fears of another infection cluster as the country is struggling to return to normal after months of aggressive containment efforts.
Of the 11 patients, one contracted the virus after close contact with a COVID-19 patient linked to the Bucheon center, while another is a daughter of a worker at the Coupang logistics center who tested positive.
The remaining nine are workers at the Bucheon center.
Health authorities have started to conduct virus tests on a total of 3,626 people linked to the logistics center. They include permanent workers at the center as well as temporary staff and employees of the company's contract suppliers.
The facility was closed Monday after its workers were confirmed to be infected. The center's first case confirmed Saturday is believed to be one of dozens of chain transmissions traced to an instructor at a private educational institute in nearby Incheon, who contracted the virus at a nightclub in Itaewon, Seoul.
The Bucheon municipality decided to suspend the logistics center until after it has been cleared of any infection risks.
The possibility of COVID-19 spreading through the transportation of packages from the logistics center appeared low, health officials said.
"There has been no report of a case around the world in which COVID-19 has been transmitted by mid- and long-distance deliveries," Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Deputy Director Kwon Jun-wook said.
"If it is not the case of patients without masks and gloves unleashing the virus at the logistics center, the possibility of virus transmission when a client receives a delivery is deemed to be considerably low," he added.
But the official said that the authorities intend to check if the personnel at the center have complied with personal hygiene rules and track the movement of confirmed cases should there be any infection risks associated with them.
As of midnight, South Korea has logged 19 new cases, bringing its total caseload to 11,225, with its death toll at 269.
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