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(LEAD) New virus cases over 400, rising travelers worried to strain virus fight

09:55 March 06, 2021

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SEOUL, March 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's daily new coronavirus cases hovered above 400 on Saturday as sporadic cluster infections showed no signs of a letup and the rising number of travelers amid warm weather is worried to spark yet another uptick in the curve.

The country reported 418 more COVID-19 cases, including 404 local infections, raising the total caseload to 92,055, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.

The daily case was slightly up from 398 reported on Friday, but down from 424 tallied on Thursday.

The country added five more deaths from COVID-19, raising the total to 1,632. The fatality rate was 1.77 percent.

South Korea reported record-high daily infections of 1,241 on Christmas last year, with the figure gradually falling since with some ups and downs.

The number, however, has stayed stagnant recently at around 300 and 400, as cluster infections from workplaces and hospitals have lingered.

Medical staff wait for visitors at an outdoor COVID-19 testing station in Gwangju, about 300 kilometers south of Seoul, on March 5, 2021. (Yonhap)

Authorities are vigilant as more South Koreans are expected to enjoy outdoor activities in the warmer weather, warning that people should continue to stay home to flatten the virus curve.

The greater Seoul area, home to about half of the nation's 52 million population, is currently under the Level 2 social distancing scheme, the third highest in its five-tier system, and other regions are placed under Level 1.5.

Private gatherings of five or more people are banned nationwide.

South Korea, meanwhile, has tentatively decided to adopt a four-tier social distancing system that allows merchants, such as cafes and restaurants, to do business under voluntary containment efforts. Health authorities plan to finalize the new social distancing scheme by the end of the month.

The country has administered vaccinations to a total of 296,380 people since launching a mass vaccination campaign last week, with an additional 67,840 getting the shots Friday, according to the KDCA.

AstraZeneca's vaccine accounted for 291,131, while Pfizer's took up 5,249.

South Korea aims to achieve herd immunity by November.

The number of people suffering adverse effects after receiving jabs came to 2,883 so far, up 1,305 from the previous day. The majority of them showed common and mild symptoms such as headache or fever.

The number of people who have died after receiving the jabs came to seven so far, although their correlation has not been proven.

A transport aircraft of the Air Force carrying COVID-19 vaccines takes off from Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, south of Seoul, on March 5, 2021, to head to Jeju airport on South Korea's largest island of the same name. (Yonhap)

Of the 404 locally transmitted cases announced early Friday, 126 additional cases were reported in Seoul and 172 in Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital. Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, identified 19 new cases.

The three areas account for around half of the nation's 52 million population.

North Chungcheong Province reported 22 infections, and the southeastern port city of Busan added 12.

Cluster infections involving foreign workers in Dongducheon, just north of Seoul, reached 146, according to the latest data provided on Friday. A call center in Gwangju reported 73.

There were an additional 14 imported cases, raising the total caseload to 7,160.

Of the newly added imported cases, patients from the United Arab Emirates accounted for three, while arrivals from the United States and Pakistan each accounted for two.

The number of seriously or critically ill COVID-19 patients was 136, up one from the previous day.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries was 82,913, up 353 from a day earlier. More than 90 percent of the patients reported here have been cured.

South Korea has carried out 6,821,943 COVID-19 tests so far, including 32,932 from the previous day.

colin@yna.co.kr
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