Korea detected 91 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, similar to the previous day’s level, as cluster infections and imported patients did not decline.
The accumulated total rose to 9,332, and the number of cured patients increased to 4,528, almost half of the confirmed cases. Hospitals discharged 384 more patients as of midnight Thursday. The total death toll rose by eight to 139.
The number of imported infections climbed by 13 to 144, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Although the government continues to confirm more COVID-19 cases among new arrivals, the government said it is difficult to put an entry ban into force, as about 90 percent of such visitors are Korean nationals.
“Although the number of local infections has been on a slide, imported cases are increasing their share,” Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Friday. “Korea has arrived at a moment when the management of risks from abroad has become crucial,” Chung added that health authorities should reinforce the two-week self-quarantine on new arrivals very strictly.
The government started to put new arrivals from the United States under self-isolation from Friday.
Cluster infections in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, the two hardest-hit regions in Korea, rebounded as the southeastern city reported mass infections of 51 at a single hospital.
The Seoul metro region, which comprises the capital city, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province, also saw their new daily infections rise by 26 to a total of 830 on Thursday.
Korea began to stage stringent social-distancing drive last Sunday to slow the pandemic that originated in China last year. As many citizens are asking whether they will be able to live a normal life in 10 days or so, however, the public health authorities replied that the public had better regard the restrictions on movement and activities as part of their normal life even after the initially set two-week deadline.
In the same vein, the Education Ministry is considering introducing “distance learning classes” on elementary and secondary schools, as is the case with most universities, if there occur confirmed cases among young children after schools open on April 6.
Meanwhile, as the United States has replaced China and Italy as the country with most cases exceeding 85,000, the Beijing government announced that it would ban the entry of all foreigners.
The U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) also said via Facebook on Friday that it confirmed an additional COVID-19 patient at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province.
The patient was confirmed two days after the USFK announced an official public health emergency on Wednesday. The public health emergency was declared as the USFK soldiers were more likely to be exposed to the virus.
USFK Commander Gen. Robert Bruce Abrams said in a letter to soldiers and their family members and Korean workers that those who violate the preventive measures will not be allowed in the U.S. facilities for two years.
As of midnight Thursday, Korea has tested 376,961 people since it found the first case on Jan. 20, and is now treating 4,665 patients.
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