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(LEAD) Nine more COVID-19 cases linked to Coupang logistics center

All Headlines 23:01 May 26, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; UPDATES throughout)

INCHEON/BUCHEON, South Korea, May 26 (Yonhap) -- Health authorities on Tuesday confirmed nine more coronavirus cases linked to a logistics center of Coupang, the country's leading e-commerce operator, bringing the total number of patients related to the potential infection cluster to 14.

The uptick in COVID-19 cases related to the facility in Bucheon, west of Seoul, raised fears of another mass transmission, as the country is struggling to return to normal after months of aggressive containment efforts.

Of the 14 patients, 11 are its workers and the others are friend and family members.

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 company closed the facility Monday. Health authorities have started virus tests on about 3,060 people linked to the logistics center.

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.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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