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New virus cases fall back to single-digit figureGovernment cautiously reopens outdoor sports, recreational facilities,
  • By Shim Hyun-tai
  • Published 2020.04.21 14:24
  • Updated 2020.04.22 12:47
  • comments 0

Korea reported single-digit new coronavirus cases on Tuesday once again, bringing the total to 10,683, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Five of the additional cases were new arrivals, raising the total number of imported infections to 1,011, or 8.4 percent of the nation’s total. Korea’s death toll rose by one to 237, marking the fatality rate of 2.2 percent.

Medical institutions have cured and discharged 8,213 patients, up 99 from a day ago.

Although the nation has flattened the infection curve and seems to be in control of Covid-19, preventing secondary infection by foreign entrants remains a lingering concern, the public health authorities officials said. “This is because Covid-19 is a global pandemic, and some countries are shifting from “complete shutdown” to partial reopening, they said.

Those who entered the nation from abroad are subject to self-quarantine. If some of them disobey the quarantine rules, there is a high risk of secondary infection of their family members, friends, and coworkers, which can lead to cluster infections in local communities.

According to the KCDC on Tuesday, the number of people entering Korea has steadily decreased to around 3,000 a day as of April 13. As fewer people are visiting Korea from overseas, the number of foreign Covid-19 inflows, which once reached more than 60 people per day, has dropped down to about 10. For the last three days, the number of new overseas inflows of Covid-19 was nine, five, and seven, respectively.

At a daily coronavirus task force meeting on Tuesday, the second day of the eased restrictions, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the government would reopen public outdoor facilities with low-risk of infection, starting with natural recreation forests and arboretums from Wednesday.

“The government is aware that the public is waiting for outdoor sports facilities, including badminton, tennis, and gate ball courts, to reopen,” Chung said. He requested localities to consider opening thee facilities as soon as proper preventive measures are prepared.

Chung appealed to the public, however, to refrain from having friendly gatherings or meals in groups after playing sports.

“The relaxed social distancing regime is just an intermediate step toward our goal of distancing in daily. Restrictions on some industries have been relaxed, but the preventive rules that people should follow are little different from stringent social distancing,” the prime minister said.

Meanwhile, researchers at Seoul National University Boramae Medical Center said they had confirmed a new-born baby was excreting 100 times more virus than her mother.

The 27-day-old girl had a slight fever of 37.6x-celsius degrees with nasal stuffiness, but her temperature rose to 38.4 degrees and lasted for two more days. She occasionally vomited and coughed, but did not develop symptoms, such as shortness of breath. The medical center also confirmed her lungs to be in a good state through X-ray imaging.

The medical team decided not to administer antibacterial or antiviral treatments and focus on increasing her weight just with breastfeeding from her mother. The baby began to recover and confirmed of negative response in the final test on March 23. She was discharged from the hospital with her mother, who also recovered and showed a negative response to the ultimate test on March 26.

“Newborns, who have immature immunity systems than adults, are more vulnerable to coronavirus infections and show relatively high virus figures,” said Professor Han Mi-son of the hospital’s Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. “We need to take greater care of infant cases, including newborns.”

With recent reports of a high rate of asymptomatic patients, medical experts across the world have anticipated that the number of latent Covid-19 patients to be far more than that of the confirmed cases, increasing the possibility of forming herd immunity.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, however, dashed cold water on such an expectation, noting that the results of the initial study suggested that the proportion of infected people among the total population is likely to be relatively small, which will not exceed 2 to 3 percent.

As of midnight Monday, Korea tested 571,014 people and completed 558,293 tests. Among the tested people, 547,610 suspected patients showed a negative response to the test, and 12,721 people are waiting for the results. The accumulated confirmation rate stayed at 1.9 percent.


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