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Authorities urge renewed virus vigilance

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

Health authorities are doing all they can to trace and stop the chain of novel coronavirus transmissions, but without the public’s support and social distancing, the situation won’t get better, South Korean health authorities said Thursday.

“The only way to stop the chain of virus breakouts in the capital area is your adherence to virus prevention and distancing rules,” said Yoon Tae-ho, a senior official at the Central Disaster Management Headquarters. “With contact tracing alone, we can’t stay ahead of the virus or slow the speed of its spread.”

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Deputy Director Kwon Jun-wook echoed Yoon in calling for a renewed public focus on preventing virus infections.

“We’re receiving reports of lax attitude to physical distancing and wearing face masks. … Additional transmissions are continually taking place. We need to continue efforts, if not more, to practice everyday life quarantine,” he said.

The plea came as authorities warn of a second massive wave of infections hitting the capital region, where a series of sporadic, small-scale outbreaks continued to pop up on relaxed distancing at nightlife spots, workplaces and churches.

Korea counted 45 new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 12:01 a.m. Thursday, of which all 40 cases of community transmission were reported in Seoul and the surrounding metropolitan area, according to the KCDC. The country’s total caseload rose to 11,947, while the number of deaths due to the contagion stayed at 276 for a second day, according to the KCDC.

Out of patients diagnosed here June 1-11, nearly 97 percent, or 412 cases, were reported as being in the capital area, as a result of outbreaks tied to a door-to-door sales firm, religious groups and a military defense security support command in Gyeonggi Province, to name a few, according to the Health Ministry.

Confirmed patients traced to Seoul-based health product retailer Richway rose sharply by 23 from the previous day to 116 on Thursday -- 39 had visited the retailer and 77 had contracted the virus after coming into contact with virus carriers -- while cases tied to a table tennis center in western Seoul rose by 7 to 60, according to the KCDC.

Spooking health authorities and e-commerce users, a delivery person in his 60s at CJ Logistics’ branch in the Yeongdeungpo district of western Seoul tested positive for the virus, according to district officials.

The branch has been shut down and roughly 250 workers have been directed to undergo testing, the company said.

The worker’s spouse and son will get tested for COVID-19 and self-quarantine for 14 days, the district office said.

Authorities are also concerned that the proportion of seniors testing positive for the dangerous virus is rising at an alarming pace.

“We are repeatedly seeing untraceable infections. We are particularly concerned that seniors aged above 60 make up almost 70 percent of patients in connection with nonregistered door-to-door sales firms,” Yoon said.

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