(ATTN: ADDS more info on imported cases in paras 18-20)
SEOUL, July 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's daily new virus cases hovered below 50 on Tuesday for the second consecutive day, but the country witnessed a rise in both locally transmitted infections in metropolitan areas and imported cases.
The country added 44 cases, including 20 local infections, raising the total caseload to 13,181, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
It marks the first time in two weeks that the number of imported cases surpassed that of the local infections.
The tally marked a slight decrease from 61 new cases of COVID-19 reported Sunday and 63 new cases on both Friday and Saturday. The country added 48 new cases on Monday.
Of local infections, seven cases were reported in Gyeonggi Province surrounding Seoul, followed by six in the southwestern city of Gwangju, the KCDC said. Three cases were reported in Seoul, the KCDC said.
The KCDC said local infections at religious facilities and through door-to-door sales continue to increase, stressing that such the infections could potentially expand into a nationwide mass infection.
A total of 92 cases have been tied to a Buddhist temple named Gwangneuk in Gwangju as of Tuesday, up five from a day earlier. The figure includes cases from a church, also in the city, as the two clusters were found to have connections.
One more follower of Wangsung Church in Seoul's southwestern ward of Gwanak was newly confirmed to be infected, bringing the related cases to 37.
Cases tied to church gatherings in Suwon, south of Seoul, came to 25, up five over the past 24 hours, according to the KCDC.
A total of 474 schools were closed Tuesday due to the outbreak, with some 378 of them located in Gwangju, according to the KCDC. The number is sharply up from 247 a day earlier.
The KCDC said it has so far administered remdesivir, an experimental drug conventionally used for Ebola, for 22 coronavirus patients in critical conditions here.
The medication developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences Inc. started being supplied to treat COVID-19 patients here last week.
An additional 33 recovered COVID-19 patients have promised to donate their blood plasma to help develop plasma-derived treatments, bringing the number of such patients to 312, the KCDC said.
Blood plasma is essential in the country's effort to develop treatments and vaccines for the COVID-19 virus, it said.
The country reported 24 additional imported cases, raising the total of such cases to 1,714, according to the KCDC.
Sixteen of them were detected at quarantine checkpoints, indicating that two out of three imported cases were entrants either from airports or ports.
South Korea has posted a double-digit number of imported cases for 12 consecutive days.
Of the 1,714 imported COVID-19 cases, 739, or 46.3 percent, were detected at quarantine checkpoints as health authorities strive to prevent them from infiltrating into local communities.
The KCDC said it is also checking all of the imported cases that were detected after entering the country so that imported cases do not cause more virus infections.
A total of 10 imported COVID-19 patients are in critical condition, the KCDC said. Only one has died due to the virus.
South Korea, meanwhile, reported one more death, bringing the death toll to 285. The fatality rate was 2.16 percent.
The total number of people released from quarantine after full recoveries stood at 11,914, up 66 from the previous day.
The country has carried out 1,346,194 tests since Jan. 3.