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Revised social distancing rules to be announced this weekend

Korea reports 103 new COVID-19 cases


Changes to the current three-tier social distancing system will likely be announced Sunday, health authorities said Wednesday, as part of efforts to make it more effective, acceptable and sustainable amid the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic.

“In that we cannot help but inevitably be living with COVID-19 before vaccines and treatment are developed, it is crucial to stably control the virus at a manageable level,” said Yoon Tae-ho, a senior official from the Central Disaster Management Headquarters.

To reduce public fatigue and minimize economic damage, the antivirus response will be more differentiated for certain facilities and will be more local, rather than national and unilateral, depending on the level of risk and circumstances, he said.

Korea reported 103 new coronavirus cases -- 96 locally transmitted and seven imported from overseas -- in the 24 hours ending Tuesday at midnight, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

Sporadic COVID-19 outbreaks linked to social gatherings, workplaces and nursing homes continue mostly in the Greater Seoul area, home to about half of the country’s population, keeping the authorities on alert.

A new cluster of infections was traced to a clothing company in Seoul, with a total of eight cases reported so far. The first case was reported Sunday.

In connection with a golf gathering, 11 more people tested positive for the virus, bringing the total of related cases to 42. The first case was reported Thursday after some 80 people played golf and had a meal together in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, Oct. 17.

The proportion of cases whose transmission routes were unknown fell to 10.9 percent for the past two weeks, according to the KDCA.

Of Wednesday’s locally transmitted cases, the majority were in Greater Seoul -- 23 in Seoul, 28 in Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds the capital, and 10 in Incheon. Fourteen cases were posted in Gangwon Province, seven cases in Daejeon, five cases in North Gyeongsang Province, and three each in South Gyeongsang Province and North Jeolla Province.

Korea reported seven imported cases. Of them, five were identified while the individuals were under mandatory self-quarantine in Korea, with the other two detected during the screening process at the border. Three cases were from elsewhere in Asia, while two were from Europe and two from Africa. Of the seven cases, five involved foreign nationals.

The number of COVID-19 patients in serious or critical condition here was 52 as of Wednesday.

One more person died from the virus, bringing the death toll to 461. The overall fatality rate is now 1.76 percent.

So far, of the 26,146 people confirmed to have contracted the new coronavirus here, 24,073 had been released from quarantine upon making full recoveries, up 92 from a day earlier. Some 1,612 people are receiving medical treatment under quarantine. 

The country carried out 15,373 tests in the past day, with over 2.58 million tests conducted since Jan. 3. A total of 22,904 people were awaiting results as of Wednesday.    

By Ock Hyun-ju (