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(LEAD) New virus cases under 300 for 3rd day, rising infections with unknown routes worrisome

All News 10:28 September 01, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS photo, health official's remarks and more info throughout)

SEOUL, Sept. 1 (Yonhap) -- The number of daily new coronavirus cases in South Korea stayed under 300 for the third consecutive day Tuesday, but health authorities remain vigilant over a rise in cases with unknown transmission routes and a growing number of patients in critical condition.

The country reported 235 new COVID-19 cases, including 222 local infections, raising the total caseload to 20,182, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The total caseload surpassed the 20,000 mark for the first time since the country reported its first case on Jan. 20.

A private institute in Seoul is vacant on Aug. 31, 2020, as the country has implemented stronger social distancing measures to stem the spread of the new coronavirus. (Yonhap)

Tuesday's daily tally marks a slight drop from 248 cases identified the previous day.

The country's daily tally of COVID-19 cases went down for the fifth straight day after it reached a near six-month high of 441 cases Thursday. South Korea reported 371 cases Friday, 323 cases Saturday and 229 cases Sunday.

The KCDC said the number of COVID-19 patients in critical condition came to 104, up 25 from a day earlier. The number is also more than an 11 times increase from two weeks earlier.

"It is worrisome that more than 30 percent of the confirmed COVID-19 patients over the past two weeks are those aged more than 60," Vice Health Minister Kim Ganglip said in a briefing. "The risk of dying due to the COVID-19 virus is highest among older people and those with underlying diseases."

The country's virus fatality rate currently stands at 1.61 percent, while the rate of COVID-19 patients suffering from existing diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, came to more than 90 percent, the KCDC said.

Of the 238 locally transmitted cases, 175 were identified in the capital area, home to half of the country's 51 million population. Seoul added 93 more cases, while the surrounding Gyeonggi Province and west port city of Incheon reported 60 and 22 cases, respectively.

Other major municipalities reported additional infections, with the southwestern city of Gwangju adding four cases and the central city of Daejeon adding eight cases.

As of Monday, 1,056 cases have been traced to the Sarang Jeil Church in northern Seoul -- a hotbed of the recent spike in new infections. The church-linked cases also led to infections in at least 25 locations, with 74 cases reported in 10 different provinces and municipalities outside the greater Seoul area.

Also at least 399 patients have been reported from the Aug. 15 demonstration in central Seoul, with 185 cases identified in 11 different provinces and municipalities outside the greater Seoul area.

This photo taken Sept. 1, 2020, shows Carewill, an elderly care facility in Seoul's Seongbuk Ward that was put under quarantine after three people there tested positive for the new coronavirus. (Yonhap)

South Korea began to impose strengthened antivirus curbs in the greater Seoul area Sunday to stop the nationwide spread of COVID-19. More than 70 percent of virus cases in the country have come from the nation's capital area in recent weeks.

Under enhanced guidelines, restaurants and bakeries in the greater Seoul area can operate until 9 p.m., and only takeaway and delivery will be permitted from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

For franchise coffee chains, only takeout or delivery will be permitted regardless of operating hours.

Indoor sports facilities, such as fitness centers and billiard halls, are also advised to suspend their operations, while toughened virus prevention measures are also enforced at cram schools and elderly care centers.

Also health authorities are particularly concerned over a rising number of untraceable cases. Of the cases confirmed between Aug. 18 and Monday, a record 22.7 percent of them had unclear transmission routes, according to the KCDC.

The number of newly identified imported cases stood at 13, with four of them detected at quarantine checkpoints at airports and harbors. The country's total number of imported cases is now at 2,836.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries stood at 15,198, up 225 from the previous day.

khj@yna.co.kr
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