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(LEAD) New daily virus cases bounce back to over 30 as church-linked infections rise

National 15:04 August 11, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES paras 5, 7-8, 18-20; ADDS 1st photo)

SEOUL, Aug. 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new coronavirus cases bounced back to above 30 on Tuesday, as an uptick in church-traced infections shows no signs of letup.

The country identified an additional 34 virus cases, including 23 domestic infections, raising the total caseload to 14,660, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

It marked a slight increase from the 28 new virus cases, including 17 local infections, the previous day.

Of the locally transmitted cases, six were reported in Seoul and seven in the surrounding Gyeonggi Province.

The southeastern city of Busan added nine more cases of COVID-19, which included seafarers on a Russia-flagged ship.

A health worker speaks with an arrival at Incheon International Airport in Incheon on Aug. 11, 2020. (Yonhap)

Domestic cases fell to as low as just three on Aug. 3, but sporadic cluster infections, most tied to churches, have led to yet another flare-up of the coronavirus.

Health authorities said at least 33 cases have been linked to a church in Goyang, just north of Seoul. The outbreak at the church has led to eight COVID-19 cases at the Namdaemun Market in central Seoul and 12 cases at a day care center in Goyang.

Also, 22 cases have been traced to another church in Goyang, and at least 12 cases have been identified at a church in Gimpo, just west of Seoul.

South Korea had banned church members from having gatherings other than regular worship services amid the soaring number of virus patients, but it decided to lift the regulation on July 24.

Health authorities have hinted that they are considering readopting the scheme should the number of infections from churches not plateau.

In this photo, taken on Aug. 10, 2020, health workers examine a citizen for a COVID-19 test at a makeshift clinic near Namdaemun Market in Seoul after eight merchants there tested positive for the virus. (Yonhap)

South Korea reported 11 imported cases for the second straight day. The daily rise of imported cases had stayed at double-digit numbers between June 26 and Aug. 8.

Of the newly identified imported cases, three were screened at quarantine checkpoints.

By country, the United States accounted for five cases, followed by Kazakhstan with three cases.

The total number of imported cases is now at 2,572.

The country reported no new virus deaths for the second consecutive day, keeping the number of fatalities at 305, according to the KCDC. The fatality rate reached 2.08 percent.

The number of patients fully cured of the virus reached 13,729, up 71 from the previous day.

South Korea has carried out 1,637,844 COVID-19 tests since Jan. 3.

Health authorities said remdesivir, an experimental drug conventionally used for Ebola, has been administered to 116 coronavirus patients in critical condition at 35 hospitals across the country.

The KCDC said the manufacturing process of blood plasma-based treatments against COVID-19 has been completed for clinical trials. Health authorities said they will conduct clinical tests on humans once they get approval from the drug ministry.


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