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S. Korea struggling to flatten virus curve again, cluster infections in focus

Retail/Tourism 10:23 May 29, 2020

SEOUL, May 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea added 58 more coronavirus cases Friday due to a rise in cluster infections tied to a distribution center in a city just west of Seoul, compelling health authorities to again raise their guard against another potential wave of the virus outbreak.

The new COVID-19 cases, including 55 local infections, raised the total caseload to 11,402, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

Friday's newly identified cases marks a slowdown from the nearly two-month high of 79 the previous day but still put renewed strain on the country's virus response capability. All the new cases were reported in greater Seoul areas.

Most of the new infections were tied to a distribution facility run by e-commerce leader Coupang in Bucheon, just west of Seoul.

So far, at least 90 cases have been traced to the center since the first patient was confirmed last week, according to the KCDC and local governments.

This photo, taken on May 27, 2020, shows a statement about the suspension of operations at a logistics center run by e-commerce leader Coupang in Bucheon, west of Seoul, over the new coronavirus outbreak. (Yonhap)

The logistics center cluster has brought to the fore the vulnerability of workplaces where many people work in a close environment without strictly complying with quarantine measures.

Alarmed by the spike in virus cases, health authorities opted to impose a tighter social distancing campaign in the densely populated metropolitan area -- Seoul and the surrounding areas, home to half of the country's population of more than 50 million, over the next two weeks through June 14.

A series of mass infections have jeopardized health authorities' drive over the past few weeks to bring the virus outbreak under control, with another cluster tied to nightclubs and bars in Seoul's nightlife neighborhood.

The total caseload linked to Itaewon clubs and bars reached 261 as of noon Thursday, according to the KCDC.

The country, meanwhile, added three imported cases and reported no additional deaths, with the total death toll staying at 269.

The total number of people released from quarantine after full recoveries stood at 10,363, up 23 from the previous day.

Citizens line up to receive tests for the new coronavirus at a clinic in Bucheon, west of Seoul, on May 28, 2020, as South Korea reported a sharp rise in cases tied to a logistics center operated by e-commerce leader Coupang in the city. (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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