New virus cases stay below 700 for 3rd day despite steady cluster infections

SEOUL, South Korea’s new coronavirus cases remained at the 600 mark for the third consecutive day on Sunday as social distancing measures had a slight effect despite steady cluster infections.
The country added 665 more COVID-19 cases, including 631 local infections, raising the total caseload to 68,664, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
The figure was slightly up from a one-month low of 641 on Saturday, the fewest daily infections since Dec. 8, when the country added 594 additional cases. The daily figure reached 674 on Friday.
The country’s daily virus figure stayed below 1,000 for the sixth consecutive day.
South Korea has been operating the so-called Level 2.5 social distancing scheme in the greater Seoul area, which is the second highest in the country’s five-tier scheme, and Level 2 rules in other areas since Dec. 8. On Monday, the government extended the measures until Jan. 17.
Private gatherings of five or more people are banned across the nation during the extended period.
Restaurants and high-risk entertainment venues, including bars, clubs and karaoke establishments, in the Seoul metropolitan area will be allowed to conditionally reopen when the current Level 2.5 measures expire.
The daily confirmed cases have remained below the 1,000 mark, showing signs of a slowdown since Jan. 5.
Despite the downward trend, health officials have been vigilant against a new virus variant that was first reported in Britain.
As of Friday, South Korea has reported a total of 16 cases of the new COVID-19 strain. The country has banned flights from Britain since Dec. 23, with the ban extended until Jan. 21.
By region, 179 cases were reported in Seoul and 189 cases in Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital. Incheon, west of Seoul, reported 32 more cases. The three areas represent around half of the nation’s population.
The number of imported cases came to 34, down from 45 the previous day. They included four from the United States and six from Indonesia.
South Korea added 25 more deaths, raising the total to 1,125. The number of patients with serious symptoms across the country reached 401, down from 409 on Saturday.
The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries was up 1,085 from Saturday to reach 50,409 on Sunday.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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