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S. Korea daily COVID-19 cases inch back up to 102


South Korea’s daily count of new COVID-19 cases bounced back to a three-digit figure Tuesday after five days of double-digit gains, largely due to a spike in cases coming from overseas and small-scale outbreaks traced to social gatherings.

Korea added 102 new coronavirus cases -- 69 locally transmitted and 33 imported from overseas -- according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

The tally marks an uptick from 98 cases posted a day earlier due to a surge in imported cases amid a resurgence of the coronavirus around the world. The country’s total of daily new infections had been in the double-digit range for five consecutive days until Monday.

Korea has not seen major clusters of infections in the aftermath of back-to-back holidays for the past two weekends, but is grappling with small-scale, sporadic outbreaks traced to small gatherings and medical institutions.

Five more people tested positive for the virus after exposure at a hospital in northern Seoul, pushing the total number of related cases to 64. In connection with another hospital in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi Province, nine more cases were reported, with 60 cases traced to the hospital so far. Cases linked to gatherings among families and friends in Busan, Daejeon, Gyeonggi Province and Gangwon Province continue to rise.

Of Tuesday’s locally transmitted cases, the vast majority were in Greater Seoul -- 18 in Seoul and 32 in Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds the capital. Outside the Seoul area, nine cases were registered in Daejeon, four in Gangwon Province, two in South Chungcheong Province and one each in Busan, Gwangju, North Chungcheong Province and North Jeolla Province.

Some 17.2 percent of the cases reported for the past two weeks had unknown sources of infection.

As many continents are battling a second wave of COVID-19, with more than 37.5 million infections and at least 1 million deaths around the globe so far, Korea saw the number of imported cases exceed 30 for the first time in 76 days.

On Tuesday there were 33 imported cases, 12 of which were identified while the individuals were under mandatory self-quarantine in Korea and 21 of which were detected during the quarantine screening process at the border. Twenty-nine of the cases involved foreign nationals.

Twenty-six cases were from elsewhere in Asia -- including 14 from Russia, five from Japan and four from Nepal. Four cases were from the United States, one from Canada, one from Brazil and one from Ukraine.

As for the increase in imported cases reported Tuesday and Monday, the authorities attributed it to a group of travelers who entered Korea to study Korean language and a group of Russian sailors onboard vessels docked at the port of Busan.

The number of COVID-19 patients in serious or critical condition was 91 as of Tuesday.

One more person died from the virus, with the death toll now at 434. The overall fatality rate is 1.75 percent.

So far, of the 24,805 people confirmed to have contracted the new coronavirus here, 22,863 have been released from quarantine upon making full recoveries, up 135 from a day earlier. Some 1,508 people are receiving medical treatment under quarantine.

The country carried out 13,161 tests in the past day, with over 2.42 million tests conducted since Jan. 3. Some 20,124 people were awaiting results as of Tuesday.

By Ock Hyun-ju (