(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 6-10, 14-16)
SEOUL, June 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new coronavirus cases spiked again Sunday in the face of a steady rise in both locally transmitted infections and imported cases, further complicating the country's virus fight.
The country added 62 cases of COVID-19 as of midnight, including 40 local infections, raising the total caseload to 12,715, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
The tally marked a rise from 51 on Saturday to bounce back to over 60 for the first time since hitting 67, the most in a month, on June 20.
Of the locally transmitted cases, 13 cases were reported in densely populated Gyeonggi Province surrounding Seoul, 13 in Seoul and six in Daejeon, about 160 kilometers south of Seoul, the KCDC said.
South Korea has been gripped by sporadic cluster infections since it relaxed stricter social distancing on May 6. The greater Seoul area accounted for most of the newly added cases this month.
A continued rise in new local infections in the metropolitan area is due to new infections related to two churches that have emerged as sources of cluster infections.
A 31-year-old woman from Wangsung Church in Seoul's southwestern ward of Gwanak was first identified on Wednesday, and 21 other church followers have since tested positive for the virus as of late Saturday.
A total of 1,700 followers, and some 100 family members and acquaintances, have completed COVID-19 tests, with the results expected in the coming days.
The KCDC said a total of 11 infections has been reported in connection with a church in Anyang, a city just south of Seoul, as of late Saturday.
The southern city of Gwangju, which had reported relatively low numbers of COVID-19 cases, reported four new cases on Sunday for the first time in nearly three months, the KCDC said. All of the new four cases were locally transmitted.
Health authorities are on alert over rising trends in cluster infections, with most traced to door-to-door retailers, churches and day care centers for senior citizens.
Health officials have warned that they could consider expanding tougher infection preventive measures -- currently in place only in the Seoul metropolitan area -- across the country, if virus situations get worse.
The country is also struggling to stem cases coming in from overseas -- once the main source of virus cases here -- as the number of such daily cases has continued to show double-digit increases since mid-June.
A total of 22 additional imported cases were reported on Sunday, with 16 of them detected at quarantine checkpoints, the KCDC said.
Imported cases, once the main source of virus cases here, fell to a single-digit figure early this month after the country strengthened quarantine measures on all international arrivals in April.
But such cases have bounced back since mid-June, with double-digit numbers reported for a total of 11 days in June, the KCDC said.
South Korea, meanwhile, reported no additional deaths, with the total death toll remaining at 282. The fatality rate was 2.22 percent.
The total number of people released from quarantine after full recoveries stood at 47, bringing total cured patients at 11,364.
The country has carried out 1,251,695 tests since Jan. 3.