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(2nd LD) New virus cases rebound, imported cases still hampering virus fight

All News 14:52 July 31, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with more info in paras 16, 17, 19; CHANGES photo)

SEOUL, July 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new coronavirus cases bounced back to above 30 Friday as infections coming in from overseas have showed no signs of letting up amid resurgences in global virus cases.

The country added 36 cases, including 22 imported cases, raising the total caseload to 14,305, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). The number of locally transmitted cases reached 14.

The tally doubled from 18 new virus cases reported Thursday but was smaller than 48 cases Wednesday.

The country's imported cases have recently surged as infections spiked among South Korean workers returning home from Iraq and Russian sailors. Daily imported cases, which hit a record high of 86 on Saturday, have risen by double-digit numbers for more than a month.

South Korean workers arrive at Incheon International Airport, the country's main gateway, west of Seoul, on July 31, 2020, as they returned home from virus-hit Iraq on a chartered flight. (Yonhap)

Of the newly identified imported cases, 10 cases were from Uzbekistan, followed by the United States with four cases and the Philippines with two. The total caseload of cases coming in from overseas reached 2,396.

Infections traced to Russian ships docked in South Korean ports have become a source of cluster infections here since last month, with the number of related cases hitting 91 so far.

Starting Monday, sailors aboard ships departing from Russia will be required to submit a certificate showing they have tested negative for COVID-19 as cluster infections tied to Russian ships have continued to grow.

South Korea also began on-board quarantine inspections on not only ships coming from Russia but also vessels departing from six high-risk countries -- Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines and Uzbekistan.

At least 121 South Korean workers returning from Iraq have been confirmed to have been infected with the virus. Of some 290 people who returned home last Friday, 77 workers have tested positive for the virus.

South Korea brought home hundreds of nationals from virus-hit Iraq three times in July, including 72 workers who arrived here earlier in the day.

The KCDC said of the 72 arrivals, 31 workers showed virus symptoms and are currently taking COVID-19 tests.

Health authorities also said they will strengthen checks on self-quarantine places for foreigners with long-term residence permits.

"If the places are deemed inappropriate for self-isolation, health authorities plan to place them in state-designated quarantine facilities," Yoon Tae-ho, a senior health official, said in a briefing.

A medical worker wearing protective gear cools off with an air conditioner at a screening center in the southwestern city of Gwangju on July 30, 2020, in this photo provided by an office of the city's Buk Ward. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Meanwhile, of the newly reported local infections, Seoul reported eight cases, followed by four cases from Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital and two from the eastern Gangwon Province.

The number of daily new locally transmitted cases bounced back to a double-digit figure, after it fell to seven Thursday.

Cases tied to a welfare center for senior citizens in Seoul reached 30 as of noon, up one case from the previous day.

Infections traced to camping added three cases to nine in total. Six families involving 18 people recently went camping together in Hongcheon, Gangwon Province.

The KCDC called on people not to lower their guard against COVID-19 even at outdoor places, including beaches, mountains and camping sites, during summer vacations.

"Depending on how safely people spend their summer vacations in August, we will face a critical situation over whether the virus outbreak will become severe in the coming autumn," KCDC Director Jeong Eun-kyeong said in a briefing.

The government also warned a professional baseball club in the southeastern port city of Busan for not adhering to social distancing guidelines at its home stadium earlier in the week.

Spectators started being allowed to attend sports events last weekend on a limited basis under conditions that professional baseball and football teams will implement strict sanitary measures.

Health authorities are staying vigilant over another wave of virus outbreaks in the summer amid sustained rises in local infections and cases coming in from overseas.

The country reported one additional death, raising the death toll to 301, according to the KCDC. The fatality rate reached 2.1 percent.

The number of patients fully cured of the virus reached 13,183, up 51 from the previous day.

South Korea has carried out 1,563,796 tests since Jan. 3.

This photo, taken on July 31, 2020, shows people walking in Myeongdong, one of the busiest shopping districts in Seoul. (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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