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New virus cases near 700 for 2nd day; nationwide resurgence accelerating

All News 10:07 December 10, 2020

SEOUL, Dec. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new virus cases approached 700 for the second straight day on Thursday as new infections continued to pile up beyond the greater Seoul area, further putting health authorities on edge.

The country reported 682 new virus cases, including 646 domestically transmitted ones, raising the total caseload to 40,098, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

Of the 682 new virus cases, 489 were reported in the greater Seoul area that covers Gyeonggi Province and Incheon, just west of Seoul.

The figure showed a slight decrease from 686 the previous day, but it hit the third-highest mark since January, when the country's first case was reported.

The number of confirmed cases hit a record high of 909 on Feb. 29. and the second-highest mark on Wednesday.

Eight additional coronavirus deaths were reported, raising the death toll to 564.

There is little traffic on a street in front of Hongik University, usually one of the busiest streets in Seoul, on the night of Dec. 9, 2020, when new virus cases recorded the second-highest mark of 686 since January. (Yonhap)

As the virus infections continued to rise, health authorities urged people to thoroughly follow the enhanced social distancing guidelines under the second-strongest virus curbs in the greater Seoul area, which have been in place since Tuesday.

"In the current situation, the capacity of disinfection and health systems is at risk of reaching the limit down the road," Health Minister Park Neunghoo said at a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters.

More than 3,000 new infections were identified across the country over the past week as the greater Seoul area was a hotbed of the current wave of the pandemic, reporting record highs of new virus cases, Park said.

Health authorities will bring all our available resources to bear upon the task to put the virus spread under control, he said.

On Wednesday, Central Disease Control Headquarters came up with another guideline to expand the number of people being tested for the virus.

Under the new guideline, anyone can take a virus test free of charge at screening centers under Level 2 or higher, or if a separate notice is issued, regardless of whether they have any symptoms of the coronavirus.

In addition, health authorities decided to increase the number of residential treatment centers and clinics fully dedicated to treating COVID-19 patients to brace for a possible shortage of hospital beds.

By region, 251 confirmed cases were reported in Seoul and 201 from the surrounding Gyeonggi Province. Incheon, west of Seoul, added 37 more cases. The greater Seoul area is home to about half of the country's 51.6 million population.

The number of imported cases reached 36, up from 24 the previous day. They include 19 from the United States and seven from Europe.

The number of COVID-19 patients with serious symptoms across the country amounted to 172, up from 149 on Wednesday.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries came to 30,637, up 460 from Wednesday.


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