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(3rd LD) New virus cases under 30 for 2nd day on slowing imported cases; local infections at 1-week low

14:44 July 28, 2020

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SEOUL, July 28 (Yonhap) -- The number of daily new coronavirus cases in South Korea stayed below 30 for the second consecutive day on Tuesday as both imported and local cases showed a clear sign of a slowdown.

The country added 28 new cases, including 23 cases coming in from abroad, bringing the total to 14,203, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The number of new cases reached a four-month high of 113 on Saturday as imported cases set a new record of 86 due mainly to infections among South Korean workers returning home from Iraq and Russian sailors.

The daily new cases dropped to 25 on Monday as imported cases fell sharply, but the country is still on guard against a steady rise in cases coming in from overseas with the gradual resumption of global air travel. The number of imported cases has risen by double-digit figures for more than a month.

Civil servants in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul, monitor an electronic signboard showing the number of new coronavirus patients in the area in this photo taken on July 28, 2020. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

As of Monday, at least 120 South Korean workers returning from Iraq have been confirmed to have contracted the virus. Of 290 people who returned home Friday, 76 workers have tested positive for the virus so far,

Since June, South Korea has also detected 78 virus cases from eight Russian ships docked here.

Of the imported cases reported on Tuesday, seven were from Kyrgyzstan, followed by the United States with four. Mexico and Morocco also accounted for two each. No new cases were traced to Iraq or Russia.

South Korea placed six countries -- Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines and Uzbekistan -- on a list of high-risk countries, with foreign arrivals from those countries required to submit a certificate showing they tested negative for the new coronavirus.

South Korea's efforts to contain domestic cases seem to be successful, with just five cases added on Tuesday.

The country had been grappling with sporadic cluster infections tied to nightlife establishments, door-to-door sales businesses, churches and senior nursing homes.

Of the five locally transmitted cases reported on Tuesday, three came from the capital city of Seoul.

Cases tied to a nursing home in western Seoul reached 28 as of Monday, up three cases from the previous day. Infections traced to an office in Seoul's southwestern ward of Gwanak added one case to 38 as well.

The southern port city of Busan added one new case, with Gyeonggi Province that surrounds Seoul also adding one additional infection.

Arrivals walk in a line to take a bus at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, just west of Seoul, on July 28, 2020. (Yonhap)

Health authorities have been keeping a watchful eye on cases tied to Russian sailors that led to domestic infections. A total of 10 locally transmitted cases traced to a Russian ship have been identified so far.

South Korea gave the go-ahead to all church gatherings on Friday. Over the previous two weeks, meetings other than regular worship services were banned amid an increase in church-tied cluster infections.

Spectators were also allowed to attend sports events over the weekend on a limited basis, starting with baseball games.

South Korean authorities, meanwhile, are currently tracing the whereabouts of three Vietnamese nationals who escaped from a quarantine facility located in Gimpo, just west of Seoul, on Monday. The three arrived in the country on July 20 and did not test positive for COVID-19.

The country currently puts all arrivals, including South Korean nationals, under a two-week quarantine.

Health authorities said they plan to enhance security at such residential centers to better monitor those who are under quarantine.

"South Korea is currently suffering a double whammy of imported cases and domestic infections. Although the figures slightly decreased over two days, we cannot still be at ease," KCDC Director Jeong Eun-kyeong said in a briefing.

"When South Korea suffered cluster infections from the nightlife district of Itaewon, it took roughly two months to put situations under control in greater Seoul," Jeong added, pointing out that people should follow sanitary guidelines during the summer vacation season.

The country reported one more death, raising the death toll to 300, according to the KCDC. The fatality rate reached 2.11 percent.

The rate reached 24.79 percent for patients in their 80s and above. So far, there have been no deaths among patients aged 29 and below.

Since May, the number of patients aged from three to 18 came to 111, with more than 60 percent of them contracting the virus from their family members.

Only one case was traced to a school. The country, which normally starts the new semester in March, began offline classes in June with partial reopenings.

The number of patients fully cured of the virus reached 13,007, up 102 from the previous day. The figure indicates that 91.6 percent of the total patients reported in South Korea have been released from quarantine.

South Korea has carried out 1,537,704 tests since Jan. 3.

colin@yna.co.kr
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