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Second wave seems inevitable, KCDC says

Daily virus tally hovers around 10 for 4th consecutive day; 4 nurses contracted virus while treating patients


A second wave of coronavirus infections appears inevitable and South Korea will do everything necessary to prepare for it, the country’s health authorities said Tuesday.

Saying that the citizens should take pride in the flattened virus curve, adding only nine new cases in the past 24 hours, Kwon Jun-wook, deputy director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also revealed that four frontline medical staff - all nurses -- had contracted the virus while treating COVID-19 patients.

“(The slowdown in the virus spread) has allowed us to prepare for a road toward resuming normal life, and at the same time to scale up our preparedness against (a new wave),“ Kwon said in a daily virus briefing.

Health authorities also said they were also considering sampling of marginalized communities, while preparing for a staged easing of social distancing rules.

The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters is to craft a plan on sampling those linked to facilities deemed vulnerable to the virus, such as nursing homes and medical centers, on top of those in marginalized communities, including unregistered foreign residents and migrant workers who lack access to virus testing.

“Through this we will be able to take preemptive measures before danger levels rise. … Please look into ways to carry out frequent sampling of vulnerable groups in our community,” said Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyung at a daily virus meeting.

According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 178 confirmed cases of the virus among foreigners staying here legitimately. It did not provide an estimate of illegal residents or migrant workers who had caught the virus.

Korea has so far identified four medical staff who had contracted the virus on duty, the KCDC said. Earlier the center said over 100 medical professionals in Daegu had tested positive, without revealing whether or not the infections occurred in the line of duty.

As of 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, nine people were officially sickened by COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases to date to 10,683, according to the KCDC. One patient died, putting the death toll at 237. Five of the new patients were from overseas.

Four cases were reported in the capital region -- two in Seoul and two in Gyeonggi Province -- while two cases were confirmed in Daegu and three at airport checkpoints, the KCDC said.

A total of 99 people were declared virus-free, pushing the number of people sent home after recovery to 8,213.

In keeping with the loosened social distancing campaign, recreational forests and arboretums among other outdoor facilities are to resume services starting Thursday, health authorities said.

Reopening outdoor sports facilities such as tennis courts is to be considered at each municipality once virus prevention measures have been put in place, they added.

By Kim Bo-gyung (