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COVID-19 infection of seniors growing alarmingly: KCDC

A medical staff member conducts virus testing at a screening center in Bucheon city, Gyeonggi Province on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
A medical staff member conducts virus testing at a screening center in Bucheon city, Gyeonggi Province on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

One in four patients newly confirmed with the novel coronavirus in the past week were those aged 65 and over, the age bracket with the highest fatality rate, South Korea’s health authorities said Wednesday.

Among patients diagnosed with COVID-19 between May 31-June 6, there were 74 people in the age group, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This was 24.7 times higher than three people recorded in the first week of May.

“Elders should not go to meetings held at confined spaces without a window or with poor ventilation. If you are in a situation where you have to be present, refrain from singing ... and wash your hands as much as possible,” Jeong Eun-kyeong, director-general of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during an afternoon briefing.

The country added 50 new cases of confirmed COVID-19 in 24 hours ending midnight Wednesday, recording a jump back to the 50s in three days, the KCDC said.

The spike was broadly due to a series of outbreaks in greater Seoul, ranging from a table tennis club, a door-to-door sales company, and a church-run shelter for Korean Chinese.

“We are handling a number of groups because there have been cases of virus spread at the workplace through confirmed patients,” Jeong said.

“To prevent further exposure (to virus patients) we’re making concerted efforts to inspect and manage those who had contacted patients.”

The eight employees at a call center in western Seoul who tested positive for COVID-19 were tied to Seoul-based health product retailer Richway, which organized promotional events targeting seniors with meals and recreational activities. The firm was responsible for a total 93 transmissions, as of Wednesday.

The country’s total number of coronavirus patients stood at 11,902, according to the KCDC.

Two patients died from the disease, pushing the death toll to 276, it added.

Of Wednesday’s new cases, 43 were locally transmitted, with 40 reported out of the capital region, including 12 in Seoul and eight in Incheon, while seven were imported cases, according to the KCDC.

A total 22 people returned to their daily lives after being declared virus-free, putting the figure at 10,611, with 89.2 percent recovery rate, it added.

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