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(2nd LD) New virus cases fall back below 100, sporadic cluster infections still worrisome

All News 14:55 October 27, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details throughout; CHANGES photos)

SEOUL, Oct. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases fell back below 100 again Tuesday, but concerns over a potential spike in infections still linger over sporadic cluster infections at risk-prone facilities, such as hospitals and nursing homes.

The country added 88 more COVID-19 cases, including 72 domestic infections, raising the total caseload to 26,043, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

The latest increase marks a sharp drop from 119 reported Monday but a rise from 61 posted Sunday.

Buddhist monks wearing protective masks enter a temple in southern Seoul on Oct. 27, 2020. (Yonhap)

Group infections from hospitals and nursing homes were largely to blame for the latest uptick.

Heath authorities still believe the COVID-19 pandemic is at a manageable level in the country since it eased the social distancing scheme to the lowest level on Oct. 12, which allowed South Koreans to resume most of their daily activities while following basic guidelines.

Previously, indoor gatherings of 50 or more people were banned, which disrupted operations of shops and restaurants. Other riskier facilities, such as clubs and karaoke rooms, were ordered to fully shut down.

Such restrictions are now lifted with some strings attached, such as requesting the facilities keep entry logs of all visitors.

Health authorities warned that the number of COVID-19 patients may rise further in sync with the rising number of travelers enjoying autumn vacation. They are also keeping a watchful eye on clubgoers celebrating Halloween as well.

South Korea had learned its lesson in May, when it suffered major cluster infections from Seoul's nightlife district of Itaewon. Around 270 cases were traced to clubs in the area.

"We urge people to minimize gatherings over the winter," Kwon Joon-wook, deputy director of the Central Disease Control Headquarters, said in a press briefing. "There is a possibility that the daily number can jump at anytime. Around 70 to 80 percent of the recent cases came from the greater Seoul."

Students receive coronavirus tests at a makeshift clinic in a high school in eastern Seoul on Oct. 27, 2020. (Yonhap)

Of the newly identified local infections, 24 cases were reported in Seoul and 27 cases in Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital. The greater Seoul area is home to around half of the nation's 51.6 million population.

Gangwon Province had six more patients, and North Gyeongsang Province reported five more cases.

A golf gathering in Yongin, south of Seoul, which reported its first case last week, reported 30 more patients as of Tuesday noon, raising the total caseload to 31.

A rehabilitation hospital from Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, added two more patients, with the tally reaching 137.

A total of 42 COVID-19 cases were traced to a family gathering from the Guro Ward of Seoul.

A child day care center reported five more patients Tuesday, raising the total to six.

Over the past two weeks, a total of 11.3 percent of the newly added cases had unknown infection routes. Cluster infections accounted for a quarter of the total cases reported over the period.

Workers distribute flowers to visitors during a campaign to promote social distancing at a market on the southern resort island of Jeju on Oct. 27, 2020. (Yonhap)

The country added 16 imported cases.

The United States accounted for seven patients, followed by Poland with three and India with two additional cases. There were also COVID-19 cases from Myanmar, Switzerland, France and Ukraine.

Foreign nationals accounted for 43 percent of the total of 3,679 imported infections so far.

The number of seriously or critically ill COVID-19 patients came to 52, down one from the previous day.

South Korea reported three additional deaths, keeping the total at 460.

The fatality rate reached 1.77 percent.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries stood at 23,981, up 76 from the previous day. So far, 92 percent of the patients reported here have been cured.

South Korea has carried out 2,567,587 COVID-19 tests, including 15,323 the previous day.


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