South Korea’s daily COVID-19 case count bounced back to a three-digit figure Wednesday after six days of double-digit gains, putting the authorities on edge for what could be the beginning of a post-holiday resurgence.
Korea added 114 new COVID-19 cases -- 94 locally transmitted and 20 imported from overseas -- according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.
One case was imported from China, where the coronavirus is believed to have originated, though its President Xi Jinping declared victory in the war against COVID-19 on Sept. 8. A total of six COVID-19 cases were imported from China from Aug. 16 to Oct. 7, according to the authorities.
Wednesday’s tally marks a jump from 75 cases posted a day earlier. The country’s daily infections had hovered around 70 for six consecutive days until Tuesday.
“We need to consider specific indicators -- such as an overall pattern and clusters of infections -- rather than attach a meaning to the number of daily COVID-19 cases,” Sohn Young-rae, a senior official from the Central Disaster Management Headquarters, said at a briefing Wednesday.
With no clear signs of a slowdown in the number of new infections in the Greater Seoul area, he asked members of the public to refrain from attending events, gatherings or rallies over the upcoming three-day holiday, which starts with Hangeul Day on Oct. 9.
There have been concerns about a possible spike in new infections after the extended Chuseok holiday, which ran from Sept. 30 to Sunday, as millions of people moved across the country for family visits or vacations.
The country is grappling with sporadic clusters of infections traced to a military base, hospitals and family gatherings.
Some 30 infections were reported from a hospital in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi Province, after the first patient tested positive Tuesday. It is not yet known how the virus was spread there.
The sources of infection are unknown for 18.3 percent of the new cases reported for the past two weeks, which could mean the virus is spreading undetected in the community.
Of the locally transmitted cases, the vast majority were in Greater Seoul -- 29 in Seoul, five in neighboring Incheon and 49 in Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds the capital. Outside the Seoul area, six cases were registered in North Jeolla Province, two each in Daejeon and Busan, and one in Daegu.
There were 20 imported cases, 13 of which were identified while the individuals were under mandatory self-quarantine in Korea and seven of which were detected during the quarantine screening process at the border. One case was from China and 15 were from other parts of Asia, including six from Uzbekistan. Two were from Europe and two from Africa. Nine of the imported cases involved foreign nationals.
The number of COVID-19 patients in serious or critical condition was 102 as of Wednesday.
Three more people died from the virus, with the death toll now at 425. The overall fatality rate is 1.75 percent.
So far, of the 24,353 people confirmed to have contracted the new coronavirus here, 22,334 have been released from quarantine upon making full recoveries, up 251 from a day earlier. Some 1,594 people are receiving medical treatment under quarantine.
The country carried out 12,640 tests in the past day, with over 2.37 million tests conducted since Jan. 3. Some 22,138 people were awaiting results as of Wednesday.
By Ock Hyun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org