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New virus cases above 100 for 2nd day; cluster infections veer out of control

All News 09:35 November 09, 2020

SEOUL, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new coronavirus cases rose by triple digits for the second day Monday, with a series of cluster infections being reported from venues of everyday life, ranging from markets to family gatherings, straining the country's anti-virus fight.

The country added 126 more COVID-19 cases, including 99 local infections, raising the total caseload to 27,553, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

It marked a slight drop from 143 cases added on Sunday, but Monday's caseloads are relatively high given the lower number of tests carried out over the weekend.

South Korea, which has been striving to curb COVID-19 from hospitals and nursing homes, recently saw more sporadic cluster infections at risk-prone facilities, such as nursing homes and private gatherings.

A visitor receives COVID-19 test at a makeshift clinic in Suncheon, 415 kilometers south of Seoul, on Nov. 9, 2020. (Yonhap)

Over the past two weeks, around 36 percent of the newly added cases have been group infections, with some 13.7 percent not having clear transmission routes.

To identify possible "silent spreaders" who are infected with COVID-19 but do not have related symptoms, South Korea also plans to carry out tests on people at all senior nursing homes across the country starting Monday. Health authorities previously carried out all-out examinations for those in the greater Seoul area.

Seniors are considered to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 than younger people. So far, more than 80 percent of people who died of the virus here were aged 70 and above.

The country adopted the lowest level of its social distancing scheme Saturday under revised five-tier infection preventive measures. The country previously operated a three-tier system.

Level 1 -- the lowest in the five-tier scheme -- signifies a controllable level of transmission that allows people to carry on with their ordinary lives while wearing masks and following social distancing rules at designated facilities.

But health authorities warned that the Level 1.5 scheme can be applied nationwide if the daily virus curve does not flatten soon. The higher social distancing level has been in place in Asan and Cheonan, both located in central South Chungcheong Province.

Citizens wearing protective masks walk around a park in eastern Seoul on Nov. 8, 2020. (Yonhap)

The capital city of Seoul accounted for 39 cases, followed by Gyeonggi Province that surrounds Seoul with 21. Incheon, west of Seoul, reported one new case, while Gangwon Province added 11 cases.

The greater Seoul area accounts for around half of the nation's population.

As of noon Sunday, an office building in southern Seoul had reported 13 patients. A brokerage house in western Seoul reported three more COVID-19 cases, raising the total to 22.

The number of patients tied to medical facilities in Gunpo and Anyang, south of Seoul, reached 104, according to the KDCA data.

The country added 27 imported cases.

The number of seriously or critically ill COVID-19 patients came to 57, down one from Sunday.

South Korea reported two additional deaths, raising the total to 480.

The number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries stood at 25,029, up 61 from the previous day.

colin@yna.co.kr
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