Korea reported four new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, confirming one local infection for the first time in four days amid eased quarantine system.
The total number of coronavirus cases inched up to 10,810, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The other three infections were from overseas, pushing up the total number of imported cases to 1,107. One more patient died, raising the death toll to 256.
Domestic hospitals have discharged 9,419 patients so far, with an additional 86 recovered patients on Thursday.
Over the past few days, Korea appeared to contain the new coronarivus almost completely as no domestic infections were confirmed. However, the public health authorities have warned that sporadic community outbreaks could lead to cluster infections at any moment. Covid-19 might have spread in the nation during the just-ended long holiday because asymptomatic patients can transmit the virus to others.
Although the number of newly detected cases has decreased overall, one or two people from local communities continue to appear. These cases perplex the health authorities as they cannot identify the location where the patients have caught the virus.
About 80 percent of the total confirmed cases were caused by cluster infections, such as the members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu and workers at a call center in Guro-gu, southwestern Seoul.
The relaxed everyday life quarantine system, which began from Wednesday, can also result in more contacts among people. The stringent social distancing system that the nation carried out for 45 days contributed much to flattening the infection curve. Still, the eased measure can cause a rebound of confirmed cases, the health officials said.
Minister of Health and Welfare Park Neung-hoo said Thursday that the daily life quarantine could succeed only with the public’s cooperation and practice.
“As many experts are warning of another widespread Covid-19 infection among locals, the health authorities will continue to check our countermeasures if situations aggravate,” Minister Park said, indicating that the government could always return to the strict restrictions.
Deputy Prime Minister Hong Nam-ki said that the government plans to pay the monthly allowance of 500,000 won ($410) in emergency employment stabilization funds to an additional 930,000 most vulnerable people for three months.
At the second meeting of Central Economic Response Headquarters, officials agreed to prepare a detailed plan to form an emergency employment stabilization support system by allocating 1.5 trillion won, to protect the employment safety net for workers, particularly those in blind spots of the emergency benefits.
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