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S. Korea reports 518 more cases, total 6,284

Concerns mount over more cluster infection cases

By Ock Hyun-ju

Published : March 6, 2020 - 11:49

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(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

South Korea’s reported coronavirus cases rose by 518 to 6,284 with a total of 42 deaths Friday, amid growing concerns over the emerging new clusters of infections.

Of the new cases, 367 (70.8 percent) were confirmed in the southeastern city of Daegu at the heart of the country’s virus outbreak, and 123 (23.7 percent) in North Gyeongsang Province, according to data tallied at Thursday midnight by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ten new cases were reported in Gyeonggi Province, four in South Chungcheong Province and three each in North Chungcheong Province, South Gyeongsang Province and Busan. Seoul reported two more case, according to the data.

So far, 42 people, mostly those who are in their 60s or older with underlying illnesses, have died from COVID-19, with the overall fatality rate at 0.7 percent. The death rate stands at 4.1 percent for those in their 70s and 6 percent for those in their 80s.

A total of 6,134 people are in quarantine, while 108 people were released from quarantine after making full recoveries on Friday.

The number of people being tested for the virus stood at 21,832. The country has so far tested a total of 158,456 people, with 136,624 testing negative as of Thursday midnight.

Concerns are growing as new clusters of infections continue to emerge in the country.

The latest mass transmission cases were reported Friday in Bundang Jesaeng Hospital in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province. It was closed after eight people were confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.

Vice Health and Welfare Minister Kim Gang-lip said at a briefing the government is paying close attention to minor clusters of infections in North Gyeongsang Province.

The city of Gyeongsan, North Gyeongsang Province, which was designated as a special management zone Thursday, saw 57 new cases on Friday after reporting 59 cases a day earlier. Most of them are linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus and a nursing home.

In the country of Bonghwa, North Gyeongsang Province, 44 people tested positive for the coronavirus as of Thursday midnight in a nursing home, with 40 percent of staff members and inpatients infected with the virus.

The government is set to look into other facilities such as nursing homes in Gyeongsan to detect possible cluster infection cases, Kim said.

Nearly 70 percent of Korea’s coronavirus cases are classified as cluster infection cases, while 30.6 percent are sporadic with their exact infection routes being scrutinized, health authorities said Thursday.

Six in 10 confirmed cases in Korea are linked to a branch of the Shincheonji church in Daegu – the largest cluster of infections in Korea.

Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, where most of the Shincheonji followers in Daegu are based, logged a total of 4,693 cases (74.7 percent) and 984 cases (15.7 percent), respectively. The number of cases there represent 91 percent of the country’s total.

Starting Monday, the government began to send those with mild or no symptoms to designated state-run facilities for quarantine and treatment amid overcrowding in hospitals.

Some 750 patients with no or mild symptoms were taken to community treatment centers. Some 1,600 more people will be admitted to the centers by early next week.

Amid coronavirus fears, some 102 countries and regions are imposing travel warnings on Korea, entry bans or toughened quarantine procedures on visitors from here.

By Ock Hyun-ju (laeticia.ock@heraldcorp.com)