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Korea reports 38 new COVID-19 patients; capital region accounts for all local transmission

Students and staff members at a high school in Seoul wait in line to undergo COVID-19 testing Monday, after a 19-year-old student tested positive over the weekend. (Yonhap)
Students and staff members at a high school in Seoul wait in line to undergo COVID-19 testing Monday, after a 19-year-old student tested positive over the weekend. (Yonhap)

South Korea reported 38 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday after a week of daily figures in the 50s, health authorities said.

Despite the decline, health authorities were on alert due to continued outbreaks in the capital region as well as the case of a high school senior who tested positive after visiting one of the biggest amusement parks in Seoul.

As of Monday, the total number of coronavirus cases in Korea to date stood at 11,814 and the number of deaths remained unchanged from a day earlier at 273, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are standing at a critical crossroads. This week will be a turning point in deciding the direction of measures to prevent the virus and students’ school life,” Yoon Tae-ho, a senior Health Ministry official, said during a coronavirus briefing.

Of the new infections, 33 occurred in Seoul and the surrounding areas of Incheon and Gyeonggi Province, and resulted from local transmission. A further three were confirmed at airport checkpoints and two more in recent arrivals under self-quarantine, according to the KCDC.

Health authorities have shut down the Seoul high school attended by the 19-year-old who tested positive for COVID-19 after visiting Lotte World, until Wednesday, and began testing some 760 students and staff at the school.

Lotte World was conducting contact tracing of those who had come into contact with the patient.

The student visited the amusement park Friday afternoon, when some 670 visitors are believed to have used the venue.

With sporadic outbreaks occurring in populated regions and the number of untraceable cases increasing, the government plans to secure 350,000 test kits for backup and health centers nationwide are to keep two weeks’ worth of test kits in stock, health authorities said.

Meanwhile, 11 people were released from isolation after fully recovering from the disease, putting the recovery tally to date at 10,563, according to the KCDC.

Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, the initial hot spots for the virus here, had the greatest numbers of virus patients to date -- 6,888 and 1,383, respectively -- followed by 996 in Seoul and 942 in Incheon, the KCDC added.

By Kim Bo-gyung (lisakim425@heraldcorp.com)
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