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New virus cases stay below 100 amid vigilance ahead of key holiday

All News 09:51 September 27, 2020

SEOUL, Sept. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new coronavirus cases stayed below 100 for the second straight day Sunday as the country steps up its virus fight ahead of Chuseok, the Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving.

The country added 95 more COVID-19 cases, including 73 local infections, bringing the total caseload to 23,611, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

The number of daily new infections bounced back to over 100 Wednesday and stayed over 100 Thursday and Friday. The number fell below 100 Saturday as health authorities focus on reducing further sporadic cluster infections and untraceable cases in the greater Seoul area.

New virus cases had been in the triple digits for more than a month since Aug. 14 due to cases tied to a church in Seoul and an anti-government rally before briefly falling below 100.

Health workers disinfect a market near Sarang Jeil Church in Seoul, which is at the center of a recent resurgence of the coronavirus, on Sept. 24, 2020, ahead of the Chuseok holiday, which falls on Oct. 1. (Yonhap)

Seoul added 34 new virus cases, and nearby Gyeonggi Province and Incheon saw 21 and nine new patients, respectively, according to the KDCA.

The biggest, imminent challenge is to prevent a potential rebound in new virus cases around the upcoming Chuseok holiday, which traditionally entails mass movements of people and family gatherings across the country.

This year's fall harvest holiday runs from Wednesday through next Sunday.

With a goal to minimize the potential impacts of the holiday, the government decided to designate a special two-week period for strong antivirus efforts starting Monday, while maintaining the Level 2 social distancing guidance.

At the current level, indoor gatherings of 50 or more people are banned, and outdoor meetings of 100 or more people are also prohibited. Sports events are allowed without spectators.

Under the two-week campaign, the operation of 11 types of "high-risk" facilities, including clubs, bars and buffets, will be suspended in the greater Seoul area for two weeks. As for non-metropolitan areas, five kinds of risk-prone facilities, such as nightlife establishments will be ordered to shut down for a week.

The authorities also called for the strengthening of quarantine measures further at public facilities, such as restaurants, cafes and theaters, in Seoul and the surrounding areas during the period.

South Korea reported two additional deaths, raising the death toll to 401. The fatality rate was 1.7 percent.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries stood at 21,248, up 82 from the previous day.

This photo taken Sept. 25, 2020, shows only a few people in Seoul's university district of Shinchon amid the pandemic. (Yonhap)

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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