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(2nd LD) New virus cases drop to 23, local infections at 3-month low

15:01 August 03, 2020

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SEOUL, Aug. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported 23 more cases of the new coronavirus Monday, with local infections at a nearly three-month low, health authorities said.

The new cases, including 20 imported cases, raised South Korea's total cases of COVID-19 to 14,389, with local infections at three, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The number of new COVID-19 cases had been in the 30s since Friday when South Korea reported 36 new virus cases. The number fell to 31 on Saturday and 30 on Sunday.

The number of domestically transmitted cases marks the lowest since May 8 when the country reported just one local infection.

This photo, provided by Samsung Electronics Co., shows a medical worker carrying out a new coronavirus test on an employee at a makeshift clinic located at the company's offices in Suwon, south of Seoul. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The number of daily new local infection cases briefly fell to four on July 20 but has since remained between 10 and 30 due to sporadic cases in Seoul and the surrounding area.

An average of 16.9 local infection cases occurred every day over the past 14 days, down 4.5 cases from the same period two weeks earlier, they said.

Of the local infections Monday, Seoul accounted for the largest share with two and one from Gyeonggi Province surrounding the capital city, the KCDC said.

A total of 10 cases have been confirmed at a coffee shop and a restaurant, both of them located in southern Seoul, as of Monday, up one from a day earlier, the authorities said.

Health officials said a person who visited the coffee shop appears to have spread the virus to the restaurant. They are not sure where the first patient had contracted the disease.

The KCDC said an ongoing epidemiological investigation showed that one of the COVID-19 patients linked to a campsite in Hongcheon, 100 kilometers east of Seoul, had actually visited the same coffee shop last month.

"Our investigation showed that one of the early COVID-19 patients from the campsite had visited the same coffee shop on July 22," KCDC chief Jeong Eun-kyeong said in a press briefing, adding that further probes should be conducted to know the exact infection route.

Of the imported cases, 14 were South Koreans and six foreigners, with 14 of them testing positive for the virus in the screening process at either an airport or a seaport, while the six others were confirmed to have the virus while under self-quarantine, according to the public health agency.

The accumulated number of imported cases reached 2,461 in South Korea.

Health authorities said that imported cases may continue given resurgence in other nations, but ruled out the possibility that such infections may lead to local infections.

This photo, taken Aug. 3, 2020, shows a closed elementary school in the southern city of Gwangju empty due to the coronavirus. (Yonhap)

An average of 27.7 imported COVID-19 cases occurred every day over the past two weeks, up 0.3 from two weeks earlier, the KCDC said.

In an effort to slow down such imported cases, South Korea has applied on-board quarantine inspections on not only ships coming from Russia but also vessels departing from six high-risk countries -- Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines and Uzbekistan.

Health authorities are staying vigilant over another wave of virus outbreaks in the summer amid sustained rises in local infections and cases coming in from overseas.

The country reported no additional deaths, with the death toll remaining at 301, according to the KCDC.

A total of two COVID-19 patients died over the past two weeks, the KCDC said. Both of them were in their 70s or older.

The KCDC said South Korea's fatality rate of people infected with the virus was 2.09 percent.

The number of patients fully cured of the virus reached 13,290, up 21 from the previous day.

South Korea has carried out 1,579,757 tests since Jan. 3.
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