New infection cases under 100 for 4th day; post-Chuseok virus fight in focus
SEOUL, South Korea’s new coronavirus cases hovered below 100 for the fourth consecutive day on Sunday, but the daily tally may bounce back as millions of people traveled over the Chuseok fall harvest holiday.
The country added 64 more COVID-19 cases, including 47 local infections, raising the total caseload to 24,091, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
It marked a slight decrease from 75 cases reported on Saturday and a rise from 63 identified on Friday. After daily infections hit 133 on Wednesday, they have declined back to double-digit figures.
Sunday marks the end of the extended Chuseok autumn holiday that began on Wednesday. Millions of people traveled across the country to meet their family members and relatives over the Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving.
Health authorities designated Monday to Oct. 10 as a special two-week period for toughened virus curbs on concerns that new virus cases may resurge again due to the long holiday.
So far, only two people who visited the southeastern port city of Busan during the holiday have tested positive for the virus.
The country also has a three-day break from Oct. 9 to 11, when Hangeul Day, which celebrates the Korean alphabet, is combined with the weekend.
Despite the latest decrease in the number of new cases, the slowdown was in part attributable to fewer COVID-19 tests carried out during the holiday. More than 10,000 tests are normally carried out over weekdays, while they halved over the holiday.
Considering the incubation period of the virus, there could be a number of travelers who have not yet suffered symptoms of the virus as well.
Over the past two weeks, 18 percent of the newly added patients had unknown infection routes. More than 28 percent were traced to cluster infections as well.
Of the newly identified local infections, 16 cases were reported in Seoul and 14 cases in Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital. Incheon, west of Seoul, reported five more cases.
Other municipalities reported new infections, with the country’s largest port city of Busan adding five cases and the central city of Daejeon reporting two new cases.
Cases traced to a hospital in northern Seoul reached 46 as of Saturday.
Infections linked to a church in Incheon reached 10, and cases tied to a public bath in Busan came to 14.
On Saturday, local authorities sealed off the Gwanghwamun area in central Seoul to prevent illegal protests. The move came as an anti-government rally in central Seoul held in mid-August emerged as a hotbed for South Korea’s virus pandemic, with more than 600 infections being traced to the gathering.
Conservative groups staged “drive-thru” anti-government rallies in southern Seoul after winning court approval to hold demonstrations only under certain conditions to prevent another coronavirus resurgence from mass gatherings.
The country’s new virus cases had been in the triple digits for more than a month since Aug. 14, due mainly to cases tied to a church in northern Seoul and the anti-government rally. Daily infections soared to 441 on Aug. 27.
But new COVID-19 cases have slowed on the back of tightened social distancing rules. The country reported 38 new cases Tuesday, marking the first time that daily infections fell below 50 since Aug. 11.
Imported cases came to 17.
South Korea added one additional death, raising the death toll to 421.
The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries stood at 21,845, up 58 from the previous day.
Source: Yonhap News Agency