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(LEAD) New virus cases above 100 for 5th day on cluster infections

All News 11:09 November 01, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS more details from 10th para, photo)
By Nam Kwang-sik

SEOUL, Nov. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new coronavirus cases stayed in triple digits for the fifth straight day on Sunday amid concerns that new infections could spike in the wake of Halloween celebrations held in the middle of eased social distancing steps.

The country added 124 more COVID-19 cases, including 101 local infections, as cluster infections in greater Seoul rose at a rapid clip, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). The total caseload rose to 26,635.

The figure marked the fifth triple-digit rise after 103 new cases reported on Wednesday, 125 on Thursday, 114 on Friday and 127 on Saturday.

Citizens enjoying Halloween pass by a medic gate installed in Itaewon, central Seoul, to prevent the spread of new coronavirus infections on Oct. 31, 2020. (Yonhap)

Since the country eased its three-tier social distancing measures by one notch to the lowest level on Oct. 12, the daily figures have shown ups and downs, hovering around 100.

The latest growth came mostly from senior nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities, but sporadic community infections have been on the rise at small gatherings including family meetings across the country.

Halloween, which fell on Saturday, is a major concern for health officials as young people gathered in the popular areas of Hongdae, Itaewon and Gangnam in Seoul.

The country's peak season for autumn foliage trips has been cited as another concern for a rise in local infections.

As the pandemic is prolonged, health authorities will announce revised social distancing steps later in the day, four months after they made public the three-tier social distancing steps on June 28.

The revision aims to change the current social distancing steps applied across the country into new ones tailored to each region, as the public has asked for the revision of the nationwide steps due to their ineffectiveness.

By region, 45 new virus cases were reported in Seoul, 36 cases in Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital and three cases in Incheon, west of Seoul.

The greater Seoul area is home to around half of the nation's 51.6 million population.

Other municipalities reported new infections, with the southeastern province of South Chungcheong adding nine cases.

The number of seriously or critically ill COVID-19 patients came to 51 as of midnight, up from 54 the previous day.

The country added 23 imported cases coming mainly from Asian countries, up from 31 a day earlier, KDCA said.

South Korea reported two additional deaths, raising the death toll to 466. The fatality rate was 1.75 percent.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries came to 24,357, up 46 from the previous day.


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