The Korean government said it believes the new coronavirus has entered a stagnant phase, but extra care is needed as sporadic group infections are occurring at multiuse facilities throughout the nation, including Seoul.
“COVID-19 patients have been on a decline for the past several days, signaling the stagnation of spread,” said Yoon Tae-ho, head of the central headquarters to cope with new coronavirus outbreak. “However, it only means the previous rapid pace of spread has eased somewhat, and we need to take into account the continued increase in newly confirmed cases.”
The nation confirmed 131 additional cases as of midnight Monday, far below the daily increase of about 500 last week and the lowest number since Feb. 26, let alone some 700 to 800 early last week, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
It was the first time in two weeks that the additional daily cases fell below the 100 marks.
“We need to pay attention to concentrated workplaces, such as call centers,” Yoon said in reference to the mass infection at a customer call center in Guro-gu, southwestern Seoul, on Monday.
With April 15 parliamentary elections approaching, the election management agency said COVID-19 patients who are in hospitals, temporary healthcare centers, and in self-quarantine can vote at places they are staying.
According to the National Election Commission, these voters will be able to cast ballots if they apply for it from March 24 to 28. The request mails have to be delivered to local government administrations by 6 p.m. on March 28.
As the COVID-19 outbreaks began to accelerate in Europe, meanwhile, the World Health Organization said the threat of COVID-19 becoming a pandemic is very real.
"COVID-19 cases exceeded 100,000 in 100 nations during the weekend," Director- General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. "The influence that COVID-19 had on many people and countries is clearly a problem."
He added that the virus threatens to be a pandemic as it has a basis on many nations. However, he also said that the virus would be the first controllable pandemic in history. "More than 70 percent of the 80,000 cases in China have been discharged fully recovered," the WHO head said. "The total number of patients and countries do not tell the full story; 93 percent came from just four countries."
He was referring to China, Korea, Italy, and Iran.
Italy’s confirmed cases neared 10,000 by Tuesday morning, forcing Rome to restrict traveling between cities in entire Italy. The fatality rate of 5.04 percent in Italy was also higher than the worldwide average of 3.4 percent.
In Korea, 54 people, mostly elderly patients with underlying illnesses, have died so far from the respiratory virus, while 247 left the hospital fully recovered.
The number of people tested for COVID-19 here totaled 210,144, aside from the confirmed 7,513 cases. Among the total, 191,692 showed negative with the results of the other 18,452 under analysis. The confirmation rate was 3.9 percent, and the fatality rate remained at 0.7 percent.
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