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(3rd LD) S. Korea's new virus cases drop to 27, continuing downward trend

National 14:48 May 31, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 7-10; UPDATES 14th para)
By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, May 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported 27 new cases of the coronavirus Sunday, the lowest since a logistics center-linked cluster infection brought the daily new cases to nearly a two-month high last week, as health officials kept up efforts to prevent similar collective infections.

The new cases, 15 of them local infections, raised South Korea's total coronavirus caseload to 11,468, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

It marks the first time in five days that the daily number of virus cases was below 30. The daily rise of new virus cases reached nearly a two month-high of 79 on Thursday, then declined to 58 Friday and 39 Saturday.

But health authorities remain on high alert amid concerns recent cluster infections could develop into another wave of massive infections amid school reopenings.

Health workers disinfect a lodging facility in Jeju on May 31, 2020, after a virus patient visited the building. (Yonhap)

Of the new cases, six were in Seoul. Nearby Gyeonggi Province and Incheon accounted for 12 and three cases, respectively.

A distribution facility run by e-commerce leader Coupang Inc. in Bucheon, just west of Seoul, has emerged as a cluster infection as health authorities have been grappling with mass infections tied to nightclubs and bars in Seoul's nightlife neighborhood of Itaewon earlier this month.

As of noon, 111 cases have been traced to the distribution center, up three from the previous day, according to the KCDC. The first patient from the distribution center was confirmed on May 23.

So far, 270 cases have been linked to the Itaewon cluster, the KCDC added, with nearly half of them identified in Seoul.

Health authorities are also keeping a watchful eye on sporadic outbreaks in the nation's capital area, including cases coming from Campus Crusade For Christ and an announcer academy in Seoul.

Of the 12 new imported cases, half of them were from the United States.

The entrance to a public library in Goyang, north of Seoul, is closed on May 31, 2020, as state-run facilities, such as libraries and museums, in Seoul and its surrounding areas suspended operations for two weeks due to a recent resurgence in new coronavirus cases. (Yonhap)(END)

The country reported one additional death, bringing the total death toll at 270. The fatality rate was 2.35 percent.

The total number of people released from quarantine after full recoveries stood at 10,405, up seven from the previous day, with 793 people currently under treatment.

The resurgence in new virus cases in recent days has put South Korea's "everyday life quarantine" scheme, which enables citizens to carry out social and economic activities under quarantine rules, in jeopardy.

There has been speculation that the country may return to its strict social distancing scheme. The country Thursday opted to impose a tighter virus prevention mesures in the capital and densely populated metropolitan area, which includes shutdowns of public facilities, over the next two weeks through June 14.

kdon@yna.co.kr
(END)

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