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(2nd LD) Daily infections stay below 100 for 2nd day at 54; potential spike still worrisome

All News 15:28 October 09, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS 1st photo, KDCA chief's comment in 4th para, background in paras 9-10, last para)

SEOUL, Oct. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported 54 new cases of the coronavirus Friday, the second straight day of fewer than 100 cases, with health authorities on alert over a possible spike in infections following the Chuseok holiday.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) remains on high alert during the three-day break that began Friday, a national holiday marking the invention of the Korean alphabet hangeul, to stem the spread of COVID-19.

The authorities have warned that the country could see an uptick in COVID-19 cases as the three-day break comes only days after the five-day Chuseok holiday that ran through Sunday.

KCDA Director Jeong Eun-kyeong said Friday there is no immediate sharp increase in new virus cases following the Chuseok holiday but asked the whole nation to be on high alert until Oct. 11.

This photo taken on Oct. 9, 2020, shows students and teachers of Daejeon Duwon Middle and High School in Daejeon, 160 kilometers south of Seoul, receiving coronavirus tests after two students at the middle school and three students at the high school tested positive for COVID-19 the previous day. (Yonhap)

Of the total daily cases, 38 were local infections and the rest imported cases, showed data from KDCA. The country's total caseload has risen to 24,476.

Daily infections bounced back to 114 on Wednesday after rising by double digits the previous six days. But the daily cases fell back to double digits on Thursday.

The government urged people to stay home during the fall harvest holiday, but around 30 million people are estimated to have traveled across the nation to visit their family members and relatives during the holiday.

To prevent the respiratory illness from spreading further, the country had earlier designated a special two-week period for toughened anti-virus measures until Sunday.

On Friday, police mobilized hundreds of buses to cordon off Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul and nearby areas to prevent illegal large-scale rallies.

Conservative civic groups had planned to hold protests against the government at the square on the Hangeul Day holiday, but a court issued a ban, citing concerns that such gatherings could spread COVID-19.

Of the newly identified local infections, 17 cases were reported in Seoul and nine cases in Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital. Incheon, west of Seoul, reported no additional cases.

The number of newly identified imported cases came to 16, up from nine a day earlier. Of them, there were seven cases from the United States, two each from Indonesia and the Philippines and one each from India, the Netherlands, Mexico, Ethiopia and Nigeria. The country's total number of imported cases is now at 3,350

There was one additional death from COVID-19, raising the death toll to 428. The fatality rate was 1.75 percent.

The number of seriously or critically ill COVID-19 patients came to 94 as of midnight, down from 97 a day earlier.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries stood at 22,569, up 106 from the previous day, with 1,479 people isolated for COVID-19 treatment, down 53 from a day ago.

The country has carried out 2,400,233 coronavirus tests since Jan. 3.

Daily infections peaked at 441 on Aug. 27, days after cluster infections were found to be linked to a Seoul church and an anti-government rally in the capital on Aug. 15.

With tightened social distancing imposed on the greater Seoul area for weeks, the daily number of new COVID-19 cases has been hovering around 100 since early September.

The 38 new cases Tuesday marked the fewest since Aug. 11, when the country reported 34 additional infections.

The pandemic, which started in China late last year, has killed more than 1 million people worldwide and infected nearly 37 million as of Friday, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

In this photo taken on Oct. 8, 2020, a participant speaks at a seminar held to discuss ways to support the musical performance industry amid the coronavirus outbreak at MPMG, a performance organizer in Mapo, western Seoul. (Yonhap)

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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