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Korea wrestles with sporadic cluster infections, out-of-route spreads
  • By Shim Hyun-tai
  • Published 2020.06.01 13:09
  • Updated 2020.06.02 14:45
  • comments 0

The spread of new virus cases somewhat slowed down over the weekend, but quarantine officials continued their struggle against sporadic cluster infections linked to clubs, logistics centers, cramming schools, nursing homes, and churches.

Korea reported 35 new Covid-19 patients on Monday, and 30 of them were local infections, the Kore Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The cumulative Covid-19 caseload reached 11,503. Seventeen patients wholly recovered from the virus and left hospitals, increasing the number of cured patients to 10,422 as of midnight Sunday. One more person died of the new coronavirus, lifting the death toll to 271. Currently, 810 patients are under treatment, and the nation has tested 921,391 since Jan. 3.

Clusters infections from the logistics center in Bucheon, west of Seoul, and the clubs in the capital city seem to be dying down as the epidemiological investigation on those linked the places nears completion. However, some Christian pastors in Gyeonggi Province, who have recently made group tours to Jeju Island, have been confirmed to have the virus. These group infections can cause second or third cluster infections.

Infectious disease experts are expressing concern that the increasing number of silent spreaders and chain infections could facilitate the advent of a second viral wave in the nation.

Minister of Health and Welfare Park Neun-hoo said the nation’s Covid-19 prevention and control efforts are at a critical juncture as cluster infections, such as the one that hit the logistics center, can occur again at an unexpected place at any time.

Minister Park reiterated that the next two weeks are a critical period in blocking the additional community spread of Covid-19.

To contain the lingering cluster infections in the greater Seoul area, the Central Disease Control Headquarters said that it would introduce an electronic entry and exit system at entertainment establishments, including clubs, karaoke rooms, and movie houses as well as churches in Seoul, Incheon, and Daejeon for a week from Monday.

People who use the facilities in these areas must take a quick response (QR) code that contains personal information. The electronic QR list system will help accurately identify those who visited the facilities in the case of Covid-19 outbreaks. The government will expand the operation of the electronic QR system nationwide from June 10 after the trial attempt.

Meanwhile, the government and governing party finalized the formation of the third supplementary budget to relieve the economic shock caused by Covid-19. The third extra budget of 30 trillion won ($24.43 billion), which is the largest in history, will be submitted to the National Assembly on Thursday.

The government will also spend the same amount in the form of bond and equity market stabilizing funds, injecting much-needed liquidity in the financial market to help businesses in a financial crunch.

Besides, the government will provide more than 550,000 emergency jobs, such as digital and non-face-to-face jobs, to minimize the employment shock resulting from the pandemic.


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