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S. Korea reports 114 more cases, total at 7,869

Some 102 people linked to a call center in Seoul test positive for coronavirus


South Korea’s coronavirus cases climbed by 114 to 7,869 in the past 24 hours on Thursday, the lowest daily increase in nearly three weeks, as health authorities grapple with mass cluster infection cases in the country’s capital and surrounding cities.

Six more people died Wednesday, bringing Korea’s death toll to 66, according to data from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of the 114 new cases across the country, 19 new cases were reported in Seoul and three in Gyeonggi Province, with most of the new cases linked to a call center in southwestern Seoul.

Some 102 -- including employees at the call center in Guro-gu and those who come into contact with them -- tested positive for COVID-19 as of Thursday morning, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government, making it the largest cluster of infections in the country’s capital so far.

The Government Complex in Sejong, which accommodates 35 ministries and agencies, reported five more cases as more officials were confirmed to be infected with the virus.

There were 73 new cases in the southeastern city of Daegu, which has been at the heart of the country’s virus outbreak, along with eight in North Gyeongsang Province, according to the data. The number of cases in the region represents 89 percent of the country’s total.

Some 80 percent of the country’s total cases have been linked to infection clusters, nearly 70 percent of which can be traced to the Daegu branch of a reclusive religious sect called the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, according to the KCDC.

So far, 66 people, mostly those in their 60s or older with underlying illnesses, have died from COVID-19 here, with the overall fatality rate at 0.84 percent. The death rate here stands at 4.83 percent for those in their 70s and 8.23 percent for those in their 80s.

A total of 7,470 people confirmed with novel coronavirus remain in quarantine, while 333 people have been released after making full recoveries.

The number of people awaiting test results for the virus stood at 17,727. The country has so far tested 227,129 people, with 209,402 testing negative as of Wednesday midnight.

By Ock Hyun-ju (