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(3rd LD) New virus cases above 100 for 3rd day on chains of cluster infections

All News 14:24 November 06, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 18-22; CHANGES photos)

SEOUL, Nov. 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new coronavirus infections rose by triple digits for a third straight day Friday, due to an increase of cluster infections across the country, putting the country's virus fight at risk amid the approaching winter season.

The country added 145 more COVID-19 cases, including 117 local infections, raising the total caseload to 27,195, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

It marked a slight rise from 125 added Thursday and 118 identified Wednesday.

The number of domestic transmissions was also the highest since Oct. 23, when 138 new cases were reported.

Recently, South Korea has seen an uptick in the number of daily cases due to sporadic cluster infections from senior nursing homes and hospitals.

A medical employee works at a makeshift clinic in southern Seoul on Nov. 6, 2020. (Yonhap)

Health authorities remain vigilant as such group transmissions were reported from private gatherings of families and friends as well.

"The latest cases are not limited to high-risk facilities but are also observed in different corners of daily lives as well," said Son Young-rae, a senior health official, during a daily briefing.

Starting Saturday, South Korea will adopt the Level 1 social distancing scheme under revised five-tier antivirus restrictions aimed at mitigating the impact on businesses.

Restaurants and cafes will be obligated to adopt electronic entry log systems with a grace period of a month. Other risk-prone business establishments, such as clubs and bars, will need to keep track of visitors via the electronic system immediately starting Saturday.

In-person class attendance is capped at two-thirds of the student body, while worship services are allowed, with every other seat left empty. Group meals and non-worship gatherings are not recommended.

While the country is set to maintain the Level 1 social distancing scheme, each city is allowed to operate its own virus infection preventive system depending on the virus situation.

(3rd LD) New virus cases above 100 for 3rd day on chains of cluster infections - 2

Cheonan and Asan of South Chungcheong Province already decided this week to issue the Level 1.5 alert amid the soaring number of COVID-19 cases there. This puts more restrictions on the size of gatherings and requires people to wear masks at more places.

Health authorities warned that the distancing measure can also be revised up in the greater Seoul area should the number of new cases not flatten. The region houses around half of the nation's population.

Of the new local infections, 38 cases were reported in Seoul and 34 cases were from Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital. A whopping 25 cases also came from Chungcheong Province, along with 13 from South Gyeongsang Province.

The number of patients in the capital city could go up after a reporter covering the late Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee's funeral at the Samsung Medical Center last month in Seoul was diagnosed with the virus.

The health authorities estimated over 1,000 people, including politicians, senior government officials, business leaders and journalists, visited the hospital on Oct. 26, urging them to receive virus tests.

The KDCA said a total of seven patients were traced to the funeral.

As of noon Friday, an insurance company in western Seoul had reported 17 patients.

A total of 10 patients were traced to a marketplace in eastern Seoul.

A brokerage house in western Seoul added three more COVID-19 cases, raising the tally to 14.

A golf gathering in Yongin, south of Seoul, also added three more cases. So far, 59 cases have been traced to the group.

Over the past two weeks, around 12 percent of the newly added cases had unknown infection routes. Group infections accounted for nearly 38 percent of the additional cases.

A medical employee works at a makeshift clinic in southern Seoul on Nov. 6, 2020. (Yonhap)

The country added 28 imported cases.

Among the imported cases, the United States accounted for 12. Three cases each also came from Russia and Indonesia, while Australia and Germany were responsible for two cases each.

Other countries included Uzbekistan, India, Myanmar and Turkey.

The number of seriously or critically ill COVID-19 patients came to 50, down one from Thursday.

Health authorities said the number is at a manageable level, pointing out that the country can immediately accommodate around 140 patients under such conditions.

South Korea reported one additional death, raising the total to 476.

The fatality rate came to 1.75 percent.

The number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries stood at 24,821, up 86 from the previous day. This indicates around 91 percent of the patients reported here have been cured.

The country has carried out 2,686,314 coronavirus tests since Jan. 3, including 12,608 tests from a day earlier.

colin@yna.co.kr
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