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(LEAD) 36 new infections reported in greater Seoul area, stoking fears of renewed outbreak

All News 13:39 May 27, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; ADDS details throughout, photo)

SEOUL, May 27 (Yonhap) -- Seoul and the surrounding area have added 36 new coronavirus cases, data showed Wednesday, raising concerns over a possibly bigger outbreak at a time when the country is attempting to return to normal life.

New infections reported in Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon totaled 36 as of midnight, more than doubling from 14 reported the previous day, according to the data from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

Health workers conduct a virus test on a visitor at an outdoor screening center set up in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province, on May 27, 2020. (Yonhap)

More than half of the infections, 19, were reported in Seoul, followed by 11 in Incheon, a port city west of Seoul, and six in the surrounding Gyeonggi Province.

Most of the new cases were traced to an infection cluster originating from nightspots in the Seoul neighborhood of Itaewon, with the cluster's caseload totaling 257 as of midnight.

A retail logistics center in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province, that is associated with e-commerce giant Coupang has also emerged as a virus hotspot, with 36 cases identified as of 9 a.m.

While Bucheon is located in Gyeonggi Province, it sits between the southwestern area of Seoul and Incheon, raising risks of possible transmissions in the greater Seoul area.

Vice Health Minister Kim Ganglip projected infections related to the logistics center to increase, suspecting lax workplace quarantine measures to have spread the infectious virus.

Some 3,600 employees at the Bucheon logistics center are being checked for the virus, Kim said.

In a Facebook post updated late Tuesday, Bucheon Mayor Jang Deog-cheon announced the city will be returning to strict social distancing for the time being to prevent additional infections.

This May 26, 2020, photo shows the logistics center in Bucheon, just outside of Seoul, where infections have been reported among its employees. (Yonhap)

Under the plan, schools in the area will remain closed and run online classes for all grades except for high school seniors, who already resumed in-person classes last week.

Following months of social distancing, South Korea switched to an "everyday life quarantine" scheme on May 6 to help people return to normal life while maintaining quarantine measures.

mlee@yna.co.kr
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