Korea reported an additional 242 cases of the new coronavirus on Wednesday, pushing up the total to 7,755.
Sixty people, mostly elderly patients with underlying illnesses, have died so far from the respiratory virus, while 288 left the hospital fully recovered.
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said Wednesday that the government confirmed 90 patients connected to a call-center in Guro-gu, southwestern Seoul. Mayor Park added that the group infection at the call center is the largest cluster of the virus spread in Seoul. Among the 90 confirmed patients, 62 were from Seoul, 15 were from Incheon, and 13 from Gyeonggi Province.
The number only counts 207 employees working on the 11th floor and their family members. The government is investigating the other 550 people who work on different floors.
"We have found two Shincheonji Church members by checking the church members list, and they responded negatively to the test," Mayor Park said. "We need to investigate further to gain more accurate information of connections."
According to Park, there are 745 call centers nationwide and 417 in Seoul. He said the call center is vulnerable to group infection, and the City Hall could close the call center if it does not follow the recommendation, such as social distancing.
The outbreak at the call center has sharply raised concerns about large-scale infection in Seoul and its vicinity. COVID-19 patients connected to the call center are found not only in Seoul but also in Incheon and Gyeonggi Province. The 90 confirmed cases in the call center might have numerous contacts on mass transits while commuting, officials said.
Mayor Park continued his attack on the Shincheonji Church as the epicenter of COVID-19 infection in Korea. "The COVID-19 epidemic in Korea began with the 31st confirmed patient. The church caused huge social and economic damage, but they are behaving haughty and the opposite of what they should." Mayor Park said.
U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris visited Incheon International Airport Terminal 2 and checked the test procedure carried out before departure. Ambassador Harris watched the passengers checking for fever at the boarding gate of Korean Air flights departing to Atlanta, Ga.
The Korean government is conducting the COVID-19 test before passengers board on aircraft to increase the reliability of the quarantine and to prevent other countries, including the U.S., which restrict entry from Korea.
"I would like to pay homage to Korea for the various protection measures for passengers traveling to the United States," the U.S. mission chief said.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Ambassador Harris was impressed with Korea's measures, adding that Harris visited the airport because he hoped to join and see the COVID-19 testing network to make “COVID-19-free airport.”
As of midnight Tuesday, The number of people tested for COVID-19 in Korea totaled 222,395, aside from the confirmed 7,755 cases. Among the total, 203,855 showed negative with the results of the other 18,540 under analysis. The confirmation rate was 3.8 percent, and the fatality rate remained at 0.7 percent.
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