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New COVID-19 infections nearing 800, rising untraceable cases portend further spike

All News 09:50 April 23, 2021

SEOUL, April 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's daily new virus cases neared 800 on Friday as growing untraceable cases, coupled with cluster infections, continued to hamper the country's virus fight against the pandemic.

The country reported 797 more COVID-19 cases, including 758 local infections, raising the total caseload to 117,458, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

The daily caseload has been in the upward trend recently. The daily tally was in the 500s on Monday and Tuesday but jumped to the 700 range with 731 on Wednesday and 735 on Thursday, stoking concerns over another wave of the pandemic here.

Untraceable cases accounted for 29 percent of all cases reported in the past two weeks, the highest ever.

The country added three more deaths, raising the total to 1,811. The fatality rate was 1.54 percent.

This photo, taken April 22, 2021, shows health workers clad in protective suits collecting samples from students for COVID-19 tests at a makeshift virus testing clinic in Gwangju, 329 kilometers south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

South Korea last week decided to maintain the current level of social distancing rules through May 2 to contain the virus, although it placed more restrictions on entertainment establishments, such as nightclubs and bars.

The greater Seoul area, home to half of the nation's 52 million population, is under the Level 2 distancing scheme, the third highest in the five-phase system. The rest of the country is under Level 1.5, except for some municipalities that have adopted Level 2 measures.

Private gatherings of five or more people are banned nationwide.

The country's vaccinations topped 2 million Thursday, around two months after its inoculation campaign began in late February.

Health authorities are scrambling to secure more vaccines while trying to boost the nationwide inoculation drive.

They aim to inoculate 3 million people by the end of this month and 12 million by the end of June. By November, the country hopes to create herd immunity.

South Korea has said it has secured vaccines for 79 million people for this year, but uncertainty over its vaccine rollout schedule has been growing amid global vaccine shortage woes.

To solve the supply chain issue, the government is seeking a "vaccine swap" agreement with the United States and also reviewing the possibility of introducing Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.

Health workers clad in protective suits guide arrivals at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on April 22, 2021. (Yonhap)

Of the newly confirmed locally transmitted cases, 498 cases came from the capital area, with 198 from Seoul, 290 from Gyeonggi Province and 10 from Incheon, 40 kilometers west of the capital.

The southern port city of Busan, the country's second-largest city, reported 33 more cases.

There were 39 additional imported cases, up 19 from a day earlier. The country's total number of imported cases is now at 8,120.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries was 107,071, up 612 from a day earlier, with 8,576 people being isolated for COVID-19 treatment, up 182 from a day ago.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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