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Coronavirus cases at govt. complex spark worries over cluster infection


Seven more public servants working at South Korea's main government complex have been infected with the new coronavirus, officials said Thursday, increasing the number of cases there to 14.

Six new COVID-19 cases were reported from the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries based in the main government building in the administrative city of Sejong, 130 kilometers south of Seoul. The number of patients from the oceans ministry totaled 11.

The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs also reported its first case from its workers Wednesday. A day earlier, South Korea confirmed another from the education ministry.

Quarantine officials launched an investigation on how the patients were infected with the novel virus. The oceans ministry ordered all workers who have contacted the patients to stay home.

As the Sejong government complex accommodates 35 government ministries and agencies employing 15,000 workers, the latest cases have sparked concerns over a potential cluster infection.

Last week, the government complex reported its first case from a public servant working at the health ministry. Health officials said the patient is assumed to have contracted the virus at a Zumba class.

Two other public servants were infected in Sejong on top of the nine cases from the complex as well, but their workplaces were located in other buildings.

South Korea has been struggling to cope with a possible cluster infection of the COVID-19, after nearly 100 cases of infection were found at a call center in southwestern Seoul.

The total number of confirmed infections reached 7,869 in the country Thursday.

South Korea suspended the facial recognition system at main entrances of government buildings to allow its staff members to wear protective masks at all times.

The Government Buildings Management Office said it has been carrying out disinfection operations on a daily basis, amid rising concerns of a cluster outbreak at such buildings may significantly disrupt governmental affairs.

Seats at their cafeterias are also reorganized to avoid people sitting face to face, it added.

South Korea has 11 government complexes, including those in Seoul, Daejeon, Gwacheon and Gwangju.

"All ministries need to have more staff members work from home," an official from the management office said. "We are also considering banning the entry of all visitors to the government complexes if necessary." (Yonhap)