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(2nd LD) 11 fast-food franchise employees test positive for COVID-19 in Seoul

National 18:55 August 12, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; UPDATES paras 2,5)

SEOUL, Aug. 12 (Yonhap) -- At least 11 employees at a local fast-food franchise have tested positive for the new coronavirus, officials said Wednesday, raising concerns over a possibly bigger outbreak.

Ten employees of Lotteria were found to have had a meetiing at the franchise restaurant near Gunja subway station in the eastern Seoul ward of Gwangjin between 3:18 and 5:25 p.m. on Aug. 6, according to health authorities and the Seoul city government.

They later visited two other restaurants in the area, with nine more people joining them.

An employee who lives in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, first tested positive on Tuesday, and three others, all Seoul residents, also tested positive on the same day.

Additional infections were reported on Wednesday, bringing the number of cases to 11 as of 6 p.m.

"(The people who participated in the meeting) did not wear masks while they met for a long time," an official at Central Disease Control Headquarters said.

Officials are conducting epidemiological research to track down others who may have visited venues the employees visited or come into contact with those who were infected.

A Lotteria restaurant at Seoul Station in central Seoul is temporarily closed on Aug. 12, 2020, after company employees who held a meeting last week tested positive for the new coronavirus. (Yonhap)

Lotte GRS, which runs the franchise, said the meeting was not a regular meeting but one that was scheduled for participants to share management know-how.

The company closed and disinfected its restaurant near the Jonggak subway station in central Seoul on Tuesday after an employee there tested positive. It reopened on Wednesday.

The company has also closed seven other branches -- including those in the central Seoul wards of Jung and Yongsan -- to disinfect them.

A sign in front of a Lotteria outlet in the eastern Seoul ward of Gwangjin on Aug. 12, 2020, shows that it has temporarily closed after a COVID-19 patient visited. (Yonhap)

mlee@yna.co.kr
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