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New virus cases bounce back above 50; sporadic cluster infections worrisome

Bustling Hongdae district on the evening of Sept. 16. (Yonhap)
Bustling Hongdae district on the evening of Sept. 16. (Yonhap)
South Korea's new coronavirus cases rebounded above 50 on Saturday on cluster infections, putting health authorities on alert over a potential uptick in daily infections amid eased virus curbs.

The country added 73 more COVID-19 cases, including 62 domestic infections, raising the total caseload to 25,108, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

It marked a rise from 47 daily cases Friday but a decline from 110 cases Thursday, when more than 50 reported cases were tied to a nursing home in the southern port city of Busan.

New virus cases dropped below the 50 mark for the first time since Sept. 29 on Friday, but health authorities remain vigilant about a potential spike in sporadic cluster infections.

On Monday, the country relaxed its tougher virus curbs by one notch to the Level 1 social distancing measures in its three-tier scheme as new virus cases slowed down after a resurgence.

Daily infections had been in the triple digits for more than a month since Aug. 14. New virus cases have largely slowed down on the back of weekslong stricter virus curbs put in place in late August.

This month, daily infections underwent ups and downs, with virus cases rising above 100 sometimes. Health authorities called on people not to lose their guards as a flare-up in virus infections can happen anytime with sporadic outbreaks.

Of the newly identified local infections, 17 cases were reported in Seoul and 32 cases in Gyeonggi Province that surrounds the capital. Incheon, west of Seoul, reported one more case.

Other municipalities reported new infections, with the country's largest port city of Busan adding six cases and Gangwon Province reporting three new cases.

The country, meanwhile, added 11 imported cases, increasing the total to 3,487. Three cases came from Poland, followed by two from India and another two from Russia.

South Korea reported two additional deaths, raising the death toll to 443. The fatality rate was 1.76 percent.

The total number of people released from quarantine after making full recoveries stood at 23,258, up 78 from the previous day.

The country has carried out 2,468,527 coronavirus tests since Jan. 3. (Yonhap)