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S. Korea reports 131 more cases, total at 7,513

Seoul sees biggest cluster of infections at a call center


South Korea’s reported coronavirus cases rose by 131 to 7,513 with a total of 54 deaths Tuesday, marking the lowest daily increase in two weeks -- falling for the fourth consecutive day. 

Despite the slowing pace of daily increase of confirmed cases, small-scale clusters of infections continue to emerge in the country’s most populated areas -- Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, keeping health authorities on their toes.

The latest mass infections were reported at a call center in southwestern Seoul on Tuesday. At least 32 people, including employees and their families, were diagnosed with COVID-19 -- the largest cluster of infections in Seoul so far.

The number of confirmed cases is feared to shoot up as some 150 employees and trainees working at the call center are being tested for the virus as of Tuesday morning, according to the Guro District office.

A 12-story building in the neighborhood Sindorim was shut down for disinfection late Monday after employees on its 11th floor tested positive for the virus, according to the district office. 

Fears about community spread are mounting as the employees reside in different parts of Seoul and cities outside the capital city -- as many as 13 cases were confirmed in Incheon alone.

Of the 131 new cases across the country, 92 people were in the southeastern city of Daegu at the heart of the country’s virus outbreak, and 10 North Gyeongsang Province, according to data tallied at Monday midnight by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of cases there represent 90 percent of the country’s total.

Eleven new cases were reported each in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, four in Incheon and two each in Sejong and South Chungcheong Province, according to the data.

Nearly 80 percent of Korea’s coronavirus cases are classified as cluster infection cases.

Some 63 percent of the country’s total cases are linked to a branch of the reclusive religious sect Shincheonji Church of Jesus.

So far, 54 people, mostly those who are in their 60s or older with underlying illnesses, have died from COVID-19, with the overall fatality rate at 0.7 percent. The death rate stands at 4.2 percent for those in their 70s and 6.8 percent for those in their 80s.

A total of 7,212 people are in quarantine, while 247 people were released after making full recoveries.

The number of people being tested for the virus stood at 18,452. The country has so far tested a total of 202,631 people, with 184,179 testing negative as of Monday midnight.