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Virus spread outside capital accelerates, new infections above 50 for 2nd day

10:19 July 02, 2020

SEOUL, July 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported more than 50 new virus cases for the second day in a row on Thursday as cluster infections piled up outside the Seoul metropolitan area.

The country added 54 cases, including 44 local infections, raising the total caseload to 12,904, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The tally marked a slight rise from 51 reported a day earlier. South Korea added 43 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 42 cases on Monday.

Of the locally transmitted infections, 22 cases were newly identified in Gwangju, 330 kilometers southwest of Seoul. The city also reported double digits of virus cases for the first time a day earlier.

Those linked to a Buddhist temple in Gwangju rose by five to 19 as of the previous day.

The greater Seoul area reported new 18 cases. Daejeon, a central city, reported just one more infection.

A traveler receives instructions from medical workers at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on July 1, 2020. (Yonhap)

Over the past two months, the densely populated Seoul and the surrounding area, which house around half of the country's 51-million population, took up most of the newly added cases here.

South Korea, which relaxed strict social distancing in early May on the back of a flattened virus curve, decided last month to indefinitely apply toughened infection preventive measures in the greater Seoul area due to a continued rise in cluster infections tied to religious gatherings, warehouses and door-to-door businesses.

But the latest uptick in the number of cases from other areas outside the metropolitan area, including Gwangju, may prod health authorities to consider readopting the scheme elsewhere.

Earlier this week, two elementary students in Daejeon also tested positive after coming in contact with a peer, in what could be the first spread of the virus at a school in the country.

As part of eased social distancing, school reopenings began in mid-May.

To prevent possible spread of the virus among students, Gwangju decided to shut down all of its schools through Friday. Students will take online classes instead.

Cases traced to a major church in Seoul's southwestern ward of Gwanak reached 32 as of Wednesday. Cases tied to church gatherings in Suwon, south of Seoul, came to nine. At least six residents at an apartment building north of Seoul, have tested positive as well.

The country reported no additional deaths, with the death toll staying at 282. The fatality rate was 2.19 percent.

The number of new imported cases reached 10, marking a double-digit rise for the seventh consecutive day.

The total number of people released from quarantine after full recoveries stood at 11,684, up 71 from the previous day.

The country has carried out 1,295,962 tests since Jan. 3.

colin@yna.co.kr
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