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(LEAD) Rise in virus-related deaths poses new challenge

16:28 September 15, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with the latest tally in paras 3, 7-8; CHANGES photo)

SEOUL, Sept. 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's new coronavirus cases have stayed below 200 for almost two weeks, but a rise in deaths is emerging as yet another challenge to the country's virus fight, according to health authorities Tuesday.

The country reported four more deaths, raising the death toll to 367, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

A medical worker helps a visitor receive a coronavirus test at a makeshift clinic at the National Medical Center in Seoul on Sept. 15, 2020. South Korea's new virus cases stayed below 200 for the 13th consecutive day as the country's tougher social distancing scheme has taken effect, but a rise in untraceable cases and cluster infections are still a drag on the country's virus fight. (Yonhap)

The KDCA said 344 of them, or 93.7 percent, were age 60 or older, followed by 17 deaths of those in their 50s.

The country's daily new deaths briefly spiked in the southeastern city of Daegu, once the epicenter of the virus outbreak here, in February, but South Korea has since reported between zero and two daily new deaths, the KDCA said.

A total of 26 COVID-19 patients died over the past week, with a daily average of three to four deaths, the KDCA said.

Health authorities said most of those who tested positive recently were 60 years old or above, an age group that is more likely to experience critical health complications caused by the deadly virus.

The KDCA said 158 COVID-19 patients are in critical condition as of Tuesday, with 137 of them, or 86.7 percent, age 60 or over.

The country's virus fatality rate currently stands at 1.63 percent as of Tuesday, while the rate came to 20.66 percent for those in their 80s, 6.53 percent for those in their 70s and 1.2 percent for those in their 60s, the KDCA said.

khj@yna.co.kr
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